This film was not what I expected, and to be honest, not what I wanted. I went to the screening expecting a hard, nasty home invasion story and instead I got a strange-toned movie about survival skills with a comedic streak right through the middle of it.
I like horror-comedies when I know thats what they are and what they are meant to be. I left this film unsure if the laughs were intentional or not, which makes it hard to review. If this was meant to be a horror-comedy the film-makers almost succeeded, though it didn’t embrace the comedy nearly as much as it should have in order to earn that title. If the comedy aspect was not supposed to be there and this was supposed to scare me – they failed miserably.
Aside from the uneven tone though there was much to embrace such as the animal masks (though familiarity over the course of the film neutered their impact somewhat by the midway mark), the cinematography and direction were beautiful and luscious especially for a horror film, the set (though contained to almost one house) never became boring or claustrophobic and the twists were not telegraphed and worked well as something fairly new for the genre.
This is a home invasion tale where a family is essentially hunted by men in masks using a variety of different tools to get the job done. The family is pretty dysfunctional (the first kill happens when the family is distracted by a heated argument between the brothers, and quibble and whine is what these siblings seem to do best!), the deaths are savage and wince-inducing.
But the strongest asset of this film was Sharni Vinson of Home and Away fame, her Erin was one of the most substantial female characters I’ve seen in a horror, and she got to keep her accent! Never less than believable, she imbues this character with a survival instinct so strong you can’t help but root for her.
There are a lot of things I enjoy about horrors – the roller coaster ride, the reflection of current fears and events, the good vs evil basis of them all, but my favourite thing is the way a strong female protagonist (or two) has become the norm. Sure there are usually a bevy of barely dressed nymphomaniacs as well, but they are nearly always matched by an equally morally-bankrupt male counterpart (unlike a lot of other genres) and they usually both meet the same fate. Horrors allow women to be strong, fully realised characters who do not exist purely to fawn over the male lead or move the plot along, these characters have lives that extend beyond the film and horror does not demand that they lose their feminism in order to be a tough kick ass character.
‘You’re next’ reminded me of this unique quality in horror and for that I am grateful.