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Review: ‘You’re Next’

A Fun Facade

Above: A new take on home invasion in "You're Next."

"You're Next" opens in San Diego August 23. It's a frightful mess. Guest critic Nate John has a review.

I'm doing something a little different. I'm going to start with my pre-screening thoughts, then come back to you after watching the movie -- a before and after shot. I've never seen a review like this, so hopefully it works out. Maybe I'm the first?? Either way, here we go.

Pre-viewing: I'm seeing this movie because I want to be scared. I am no veteran of horror, thriller or creeper films, but I enjoy eeriness on occasion. I enjoy small doses of fear. Who doesn't? It's a necessary spice of life.

Funny thing, fear. It can paralyze. It can inspire. This primal, raw sensation can move nations, or send us fleeing to our beds after we turn off the lights. I just want a piece of that -- a dose of fear to ignite my senses as nothing else does.

That's why I'm seeing "You're Next."

Post viewing: I think the movie is a prank. It presents as a horror -- its advertisements ominous, dark, and enticingly vague.

It sports a facade of terror. "Next" starts as a traditional scary flick, then slowly unravels into ridiculousness. Some audience members left the theater noting its black comedy feel (like this or this).

At the 30 minute mark the "Next" strikes me as a decent comedy. The brothers (played by AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg) make well timed and genuine jokes, and the parents (played by Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton) act too poorly to let the audience believe their fear. After the first half hour of this 95-minute gush fest, the ridiculosity escalates.

There are wonderfully hilarious and gruesome peaks -- a slow motion, desperate sprint for safety into a metal clothesline, genuinely creative anti-intruder booby traps ("Home Alone" style), and the piece de resistance... that I do not want to give it away. (Hint.)

It's a fun time for the whole theater. The crowd's reactions are as important to the experience as what happens on screen. The yells, the snarky comments, the delighted squeals and boisterous laughter -- all wonderful. But planned? That's my conundrum. I feel pranked.

The posters read "terrifying." The Pandora ads say "really frickin' scary." My hopes ran high. And now I feel confused. I leave the theater feeling tickled and light. "You're Next" is a quirky, fun time.

Nate John is a Cinema Junkie guest critic, blogger, and the KPBS Newsroom Coordinator.

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