In the late 1990s, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson turned the horror genre on its head with meta serial killer thriller Scream.
Chances are you know this already because you've seen it. Most people have, but the usual tropes of the genre are more indestructible than Freddie, Jason and Pinhead combined.
You’re Next, the 2011 low budget stalk-and-slash thriller (finally getting a national release), owes a debt to Scream and countless other genre classics, but I doubt in 10 years filmmakers will be desperate to emulate its scares.
It opens with a couple having sex, so we know they're going to die; there are no actual opening titles as the first victim’s blood spells out the title on a window.
Then we meet a rich neighbouring family arriving at their remote vacation house.
Mother Aubrey hears something upstairs and wants to leave. Husband, Paul, investigates, but in one of the best shocks, is startled by his son, Crispian.
Paul has a few sons, all of them annoying.
A day later the other offspring and their partners arrive, and during an annoying family row, one of the gathered is shot with a crossbow bolt.
Despite the windows suddenly being lethal areas, our shocked and stupid protagonists insist on staying as close to them as possible while screaming. A lot. And when there's no screaming, there's that thunderous score turned up to 11. Foghorns blaring at a wake would have been more welcome.
Aside from that, I'm not sure what was more annoying, the unconvincing acting, zero family dynamic (even for a dysfunctional clan), or weak script.
However, a John Carpenter-style theme wasn't bad, albeit over-used.
On the plus side it is laced with dark humour; a wounded victim with a bolt in his back catching it on lethal piano wire was a nice/nasty touch, and death by kitchen appliance helped puncture the tension bubble in the third act.
For any thriller, credibility is key and this was sorely lacking any because I didn't care about the characters.
The key twist is obvious when we discover the animal masked killers' motive. However, the third act does claw back some respectability with a flash camera adding fresh licks to the death by strobe cliche, while a door-operated weapon gag tips its hat to A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Earlier this year The Purge exploited the ’yuppies under siege’ idea more effectively, only that fell apart in the third act.
This is the reverse, and despite a drawn out finale, and OTT killings by resourceful Aussie heroine Erin (the film’s saving grace, Sharni Vinson), the result is not a complete waste of time.
With a better cast and some tighter script editing, this could have been something special.
As it is, You’re Next is just a 90 minute-plus diversion, little more.