R (strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity); 95 min.
Spiked with jet-black humor and smeared with gore, Youre Next aspires to be a smart riff on the slasher film.
Unfortunately, this festival favorite ( Youre Next earned buzz at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, among others) cant sustain the eerie tension of its opening moments, and by the time the final body falls, has collapsed into a heap of absurd contrivances, paper-thin characters and a plot bordering on laughable.
Directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett (both of whom have several horror titles to their credit, including contributions to the omnibus V/H/S series), Youre Next centers on the Davison family, a wealthy clan under siege by a gang of violent thugs wearing creepy animal masks.
Among the houseguests is Erin (Sharni Vinson, making the most of a thankless role), a young woman who, as the evening progresses and blood begins to spill, reveals a knack for survival.
Giving away any more would spoil the few twists built into Barretts intermittently witty screenplay, but without ruining the surprises, the motivations for the vicious assault are surprisingly banal. Its disappointing to watch the film turn into High Tension by way of Home Alone the few visual flourishes Wingard orchestrates cant spice up wooden dialogue and stilted acting.
Youre Next manages a few satisfying shocks the prologue is a mini-masterpiece of wordless terror but falls victim to its many shortcomings.
-- Preston Jones