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John’s Horror Corner: You’re Next (2013), featuring one of the best credibly tough horror heroines I’ve seen in a decade!

August 24, 2013

MY CALL:  Horrible filmmaking…but being unexpectedly complemented by one of the best credibly tough horror heroines in the last decade makes it all worth it.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCHVacancy (2007) and The Strangers (2008) capture the “why is this happening to us” tone, but The Purge (2013) really nails down the team domestic assault aspect.

Directed by Adam Wingard (V/H/S 2: Phase I Clinical Trials, V/H/S: Tape 56, The ABCs of Death: Q is for Quack) and written by Simon Barrett (V/H/S 2: Tape 49 and Phase I Clinical Trials, V/H/S: Tape 56 and Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger, The ABCs of Death: Q is for Quack), this movie failed in most respects except for excellently presenting a credibly tough female survivor character.  This is difficult to do without getting carried away, and it should be acknowledged that this is major.  However, despite their ability to entertain me with some of their short films, as filmmakers they failed me here.  I was entertained and this wasn’t a bad movie experience for me, but it was all because one well-crafted character saved this movie for me.

THE PLAYERS:  Parents Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton; Re-Animator, Chopping Mall, From Beyond) are celebrating their 35th anniversary at their secluded house with their children Crispin (A. J. Bowen; The House of the Devil, The Signal, Chillerama) and his girlfriend and the savior of this movie Erin (Sharni Vinson; Step Up 3D); Drake (Joe Swanberg; Cabin Fever 2, V/H/S) and his wife Kelly (Margaret Laney, credited as Sarah Myers); Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and his new girlfriend Zee (Wendy Glenn; 11/11/11); and daughter Amy (Amy Seimetz; Silver Bullets) and her boyfriend Tariq (Ti West; The Innkeepers, Cabin Fever 2).

These are your killer.  They wear masks that would make it impossibly difficult to keep their eye on the target while swinging an axe or shooting a crossbow.

This movie approaches Vacancy and The Strangers but changes the victims from a couple to a family of ten.  Otherwise, quite similarly, the location is remote, contact to the outside world is cut off, and we don’t know why our killers are trying to kill them (for a while anyway).  This premise should have the ability to be very exciting, but your thrills will be serially curbed  by the break in tempo you’ll endure when you are forced to watch the characters interact with one another.

This well-written character tries to seduce her boyfriend next to the dead body of a family member of his.  There is really no build up to justify this extreme behavior.

Yup…it’s sad. The characters are terribly written and their choices and issues seem dumb even for a horror movie–even when you consider that they’re irrational and scared for their lives.  The one exception is thankfully a glowing one: Erin.  Sharni Vinson does an AMAZING job in this role!  Erin is a strong-willed woman who makes believably smart choices while remaining appropriately scared.  She maintains just enough control, avoids life-ending idiotic decisions, and when she’s fighting for her life she does it credibly whether she’s striking someone by surprise in the throat or recklessly jumping out a window to escape a killer.  She’s never depicted as unrealistically strong, tough, invulnerable, ninja-like or brilliant.  What’s great is that, however unlikely, they even provide us with a reason that she can handle herself so well under duress.

Here’s Erin.  She can handle an axe about as well as she suppresses her PTSD.  My kind of woman!

Like our heroine from I Spit on Your Grave (2010), Erin goes through Hell, gets considerably hurt and accumulates several debilitating injuries, and finds most of her strength in her desperation and anger with her situation.  The major difference between the two is that nothing horrible happened to Erin for her to seek revenge.  Instead, some folks just starting killing everyone at a dinner party and she reacted in kind.

Erin, you’ve made wielding an axe sexy again!  Thank you for that and thank you for saving this movie!

The story was unoriginal, incredibly simple, and yielded a plot twist which I think you’ll be expecting before they finally get around to the big reveal.  The blood, screaming, lacerations and impalements were abundant and, if you could get over the poorly written bonkers randomness of it all, there were some thrills to be had, though mostly thanks to Erin-fueled adrenaline!

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2013 3:14 pm

    More fun than it was scary, but that was fine with me. Good review John.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 8, 2015 9:58 am

      Very much agreed. Not scary at all.

  2. August 27, 2013 9:23 am

    Big fan of Sharni Vinson in this film. Totally resourceful.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      September 12, 2013 6:48 pm

      Sharni saved this movie for me.

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