Review Roundup - Masks and monsters

YOU'RE NEXT (2011)

Just I recently came across blog that offered an idea that I found particularly interesting, that John Carpenter was becoming someone of influence to new horror directors. Now as a fan of a lot of his films, in particular those with horror and science fiction elements this was a nice prospect. The release of his recent Lost Themes album, a project that showed some of his musical compositions that were never used on film struck a chord with me too, and as a film maker any kind of resurgence was something to look forward to. So with You're Next I was excited to see those influences being to materialise in a slasher plot with certain moments that were very Haddonfield, 1978. Even if the rest of the film will need some further examination.

As a horror feature the overall movie is a little mixed in terms of tone and plot. Mystery killers arrive to crash the party of a wealthy couple who have invited their dysfunctional children over to have some quality family time, and pretty soon the blood flows and as the masked intruders put their plain into action. This level of unknown intent provides them with a creepy edge. However from the outset I had problems with some of the cast, and while certain key characters were very good some of the others play up their spoiled brat personalities far too much in a way that had me hoping they would have a gruesome end much sooner. Maybe it's realistic though, I guess in some ways their complaining and hysterics are probably appropriate. The other horror elements all work well enough, which is the strongest part.

It's mostly played straight but certain elements of comedy start to creep in towards the end, and it's not entirely clear if this was what they were going for or if it's unintentional. That lack of clarity in terms of the tone is a distraction during what at times is a standard slasher but turns towards self parody once some of the victims begin to fight back and several different skills and attributes are revealed. The masks are very sinister and get used well early on but later on during the last parts of the story all of that is drained away. Once they become more like people instead of simply faceless psychos and the DIY house defenses are sprung upon them, it just makes them look inept. There is a lot to like here, from the mood and look of the film to the good use of the mansion type location. But that simplicity is lost as the story unravels instead of maintaining it as a strength and some of the turns become silly or predictable too soon.



It's interesting to see a film which derives big cues from Dario Argento's work on Deep Red and Inferno, and the movie artwork has a great Art Nouveau look about it. Both these things piqued my interest when I came across this French language thriller. But the resulting film is far from the giallo greats of the 70s by a long way. The plot about a man looking for his wife inside a hotel full of secret passages and mystery guests would make a great story and they have some striking visuals in this setting... but whole thing is a jumbled mess that fails in the execution with a repetitive but impenetrable structure. There are some psychological horror moments, some black and white scenes that skip frames, some apparent dream sequences and murders. But nothing works and it's just headache inducing at best.