That says something about the similarity of schlocky horror flicks out there—they all have basically the same premise and plot description. Except this one, 2013’s You’re Next, is actually quite original.
The premise is straightforward: a wealthy family is hosting a family reunion at their vacation home in the middle of nowhere, when masked men with crossbows begin picking them off one by one. The family consists of a real bro of an older brother (who is set up as the red herring “bad guy”) and his wife; the doughy middle brother, Crispian, and his Australian survivalist girlfriend, Erin; little brother Felix and his Goth girlfriend Zee; and their tastefully late-middle-aged parents. There’s also a sister and her documentary filmmaker boyfriend, Tariq, who is the first person to die.
The film builds incredible tension, as it’s unclear who the masked assassins are or why they’re killing off the family. What becomes clear is that the killers and their conspirators are not prepared for Erin’s inexplicable abilities to fight back and elude death.
Soon it becomes clear that the assassins have been hired by members of the family to off enough of their relatives to seize the parents’ sizable inheritance. Financial troubles for some of the family members apparently led them to this grisly, ghastly solution, and Erin—a neutral third-party that is new to the family—was intended to be the witness, exonerating the guilty family members.
Of course, all of that is scuttled as Erin exacts her revenge one-by-one on the killers, all building to a Night of the Living Dead style ending.
What’s particularly poignant about the film is the mewlish gamma male Crispian. Crispian is clearly the black sheep of the family, and is a pudgy, perpetual academic. He is clearly too weak and equivocating to have ever landed Erin (played by Sharni Vinson), and though his family is a bit too hard on him, his victim mentality is clear from the outset. The audience is meant to sympathize with Crispian, and he is pathetically sympathetic in the beginning, but when it’s revealed he is one of the conspirators, it really makes his character putrid.
In a way, the portrayal of Crispian is refreshing honest for a film: he is the kind of self-loathing sad sack that would intellectually justify the murder of his parents and siblings for personal gain as some manner of cosmic retribution, a rebalancing of the scales. That his character is a failed academic is even truer to life, as academia is a field that seems to attract and breed these kind of white knight busybodies who are, of course, massively immoral.
All philosophical waxing aside, it’s a fun and scary little home invasion flick, and worth checking out.