You're Next: An offbeat horror surprise

Gary Wolcott, atomictown.comAugust 23, 2013 

Film Review Youre Next

This film publicity image released by Lionsgate shows Nick Tucci and Wendy Glenn, right, in a scene from "You're Next." (AP Photo/Lionsgate, Corey Ransberg)

COREY RANSBERG — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Here's the premise. A couple with grown children own a mansion in the middle of nowhere. It's their anniversary, and the kids and their wives and girlfriends show up to celebrate. At dinner the killing starts.

A third of the way through You're Next and after a few of the film's characters have been brutally murdered, one of them says, "Why would someone do this?" My question exactly.

We've been inundated with chop and slash flicks like this for a couple of decades. Grim executioners wearing strange masks dispatch characters in creative ways and in their order of importance to the script.

When we finally learn why, it's always a disappointment.

The cast is a good one, but just one member is a known quantity. She's Barbara Crampton, who spent two decades in the TV soap The Young and the Restless. Sharni Vinson plays the girlfriend of one of the sons. To everyone's surprise, she's a survivalist and has great suggestions on what everyone needs to do to stay alive.

Vinson is believably good, as is Nicholas Tucci, who tosses off some good lines.

This is director Adam Wingard's first major release. Most of us have never heard of him. Horror aficionados know about Wingard and writer Simon Barrett, who did A Horrible Way to Die and a couple of popular shorts. The rest of us have no clue.

Wingard's tight direction and no-nonsense approach to horror and Barrett's twisty and twisted screenplay are pitch perfect once you're in on the secret. Getting there is where it's a bit clumsy and a bit stale because we've been-there, done-that. And too many times.

Considering the opening comments, you must -- no doubt -- think I hated You're Next . On the contrary. Just after the "Why would someone do this?" comment, we find out who's doing the murdering and why. It's at that juncture that You're Next finds its footing and becomes not only an interesting chop and slash flick, but also one that is -- at times -- downright funny.

Nothing helps horror more than humor because people being hacked to pieces by a machete or having their throats cut just isn't a topic that typically brings gales of laughter.

So the humor helps. Big time.

Director: Adam Wingard

Stars: Barbara Crampton, Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, AJ Bowen, Wendy Glenn

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated R for blood and gore, language, nudity. It's playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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