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Bloody blades and bolts You're Next'

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Bloody blades and bolts  You're Next' Bloody blades and bolts You're Next'

Home invasion horror surprisingly strong

There can be no escaping movie trends. If a certain type of movie achieves a level of success, you can bet that you're going to see more of that type of movie. And if a few of those follow-ups also do good business? Well, that's how you wind up with a cinematic landscape littered with vampires, poltergeists and exorcisms.

And home invasions. Can't forget the home invasions. The latest in that line is 'You're Next,' which from its title on down kind of looks like pulpy crap at first glance. But looks can be deceiving; in fact, 'You're Next' turns out to be a taut thriller that is both brutally bloody and surprisingly smart.

The Davison family is getting together for a bit of a reunion at their middle-of-nowhere vacation home. Dad Paul (Rob Moran, 'Just An American') and mom Aubrey (Barbara Crampton, 'The Lords of Salem') have invited the whole brood to visit. There's the uptight Drake (Joe Swanberg, 'Detonator') and his smug wife Kelly (Margaret Laney, 'Absence'); stuffy college professor Crispian (AJ Bowen, 'Among Friends') and his new girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson, 'Bait'); shiftless Felix (Nicholas Tucci, 'Undocumented') and his friend Zee (Wendy Glenn; '11-11-11'); and daddy's little girl Aimee (Amy Seimetz, TV's 'The Killing') and her hipster boyfriend Tariq (Ti West, 'Drinking Buddies').

There's a slightly atypical amount of resentment in the air; the assorted children find themselves arguing the same petty arguments they've always had while the parents try desperately to get everyone to play nicely. 

And then someone starts shooting them through the windows. With a crossbow.

From there, 'You're Next' veers into full-on blood-and-guts mode, as the members of the family get struck down one by one by a group of unknown assailants dressed in combat uniforms and the creepy animal masks that have become cinema's de rigueur home invasion accessory. The Davison family is sliced, diced and chopped every which way machetes, axes and the aforementioned crossbow all take turns in the splatter of the spotlight.

But to the chagrin of the attackers, there are people in this house who are more than capable of fighting back. And they will fight back; survival is on the line.

Initially, your impulse might be to say that we don't need another home invasion horror movie. And it's true in most regards, we've reached a saturation point. However, what 'You're Next' does is take the formula and give it a twist; it's like New Coke if New Coke wasn't awful. While there's not a lot here that could be considered new, director Adam Wingard has breathed new life into some stale concepts. He does this mostly with humor.

Yeah. There are some legitimately funny moments here for people with a certain sense of humor. It isn't for everybody, for sure, but there were a handful of moments that made me (and others at my screening) laugh out loud. We're talking gruesome, gory, hood-over-the-head-dark comedy here, but the laughs are definitely there.

The script is reasonably tight, with only a few of the holes that these sorts of films inevitably have and a half-decent twist revealed early enough that you might not figure it out before the movie does. The performances are nothing to write home about, but honestly, 'You're Next' doesn't ask them to do much more than be jerks for 15 minutes and then terrified for the 20-75 minutes until their graphically violent demise. This isn't Oscar bait.

(As an aside, I'd like to know who decided that animal masks would be the go-to for random home-invading psychos in the movies. I'm not saying I disapprove, mind you; I just want to know when the decision was made and who made it.)

There's a constant, intense brutality to 'You're Next' that makes it work. And while blending humor and horror is a risky proposition, it can make for great watchability when it works. It works here. If you like your scares filled with tension and drenched in blood, you'll have a good time with this movie.

[4 out of 5] 

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