You’re Next is a clever, creative, and often quite funny deconstruction of the home invasion horror genre that asks a single, deceptively simple question: “What would happen if a halfway competent person found herself pitted against a gauntlet of slasher movie cliches?”
Unfortunately, you’d never know that from the film’s first twenty minutes, which delay the tantalizing narrative hook by playing many of the familiar, uninspired tropes completely and utterly straight: long, largely inert scenes devoted solely to developing the obviously doomed characters; incessant bickering undercutting the tension at the least appropriate moments; and the protagonists making decisions so implausibly illogical that they cannot even be justified by anxiety or distress.
And that’s a shame. Sharni Vinson plays such an iconic Final Girl: cunning, resourceful, intelligent, tough—I can’t imagine why any filmmaker would want to hide her for the sake of humor or shock value. Under different circumstances, her performance would have elevated the material; instead, the structurally-flawed nature of the movie as a whole drags her admirable work down with it.
[Originally written August 27, 2013.]