8 September 2014

Defending Yourself From Nutters

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I was talking to a friend a little while ago about horror films and we seemed to have a differing opinion on what frightened us the most. He was afraid of ghosts because he wouldn't know how to defend himself from one whereas I'm afraid of intruders because I'm a grown up and so I know which of the two really exist. I keep a baseball bat next to my bed and believe me I have no intention of using it to play fucking sports with. It's there for one simple reason and that is to defend myself from some knobhead who might break into my room and attempt to steal my possessions or touch my winkle or whatever. Nor by the way will I be using it to try and cripple the bastard by slamming it into their legs. If I find that somebody has broken in then I'm not taking any risks and so will be going exclusively for the head and bollocks. Not to sound paranoid but I essentially sleep next to a piece of wood that I'm fully prepared to kill somebody with. I'm sure the reality would be that I'd freeze with fear and just piss myself but, you know... A boy can dream.

So it was with all this in the back of my mind that led to me watching the remarkably well reviewed You're Next. On the surface, this is just your bog standard home invasion movie but with one brilliant twist. A group of unsympathetic fuckwits head to a country house in the woods for a family reunion where they find themselves under attack from some well trained crazies in animal masks.  One of the brothers brings his new girlfriend along for the ride though, with the twist being that she turns out to be a more efficient killer than the people trying to murder them. There's a moment where she walks past a window when suddenly an arm smashes through from outside and grabs her by the hair. Quick as a flash, she stabs the cunt in the arm with a knife, pins him to the wooden frame and then carries on attempting to fortify the house. It's fucking hilarious! Imagine a cross between Halloween and Home Alone and that's basically what this is.

This is a very literal remake of Silence Of The Lambs...
In honesty, I didn't really know too much about this film beyond that it was meant to be good and it was another example of a home-invasion movie. I think I'd just figured that I wanted to see something that might scare me and so decided to give it a shot. Sadly, I don't think my heart rate increased at any point here and if you're at the point where you're basically desensitised to movie fear then this won't really bother you. I think there are only four movies over the last few years that have really creeped me out though, and if that's what you're after then I recommend Wolf Creek, The Descent, Kill List and Sex And The City 2. I know that last one wasn't strictly a horror film but the level of racism, sexism and homophobia that was casually thrown in for shits and giggles was pretty terrifying. As was the fact that at least one of the girls is one botex injection away from turning into Leatherface... Anyway, so You're Next wasn't exactly frightening but I don't really hold that against it because not much is once you've watched more than about twenty horror movies. I mean, I'm sure my Nan would find it terrifying but that's not really an achievement is it? I could scare her by just writing question marks on every date of her calender and occasionally whispering, “well, you are old”...

To make up for its lack of scares however, the film excels just by being really inventive. In a genre that can sometimes seem as stale as a dead mermaid’s fishy flange, simply making a horror film that has a bit of life to it is surely achievement enough. There's a large part of me that wants to say that You're Next subverts the clich├ęs but that's probably not true. I mean, the fact that the girl is unintentionally better at defending herself than the killers are at killing her is nothing really new is it? Not to spoil Halloween but Jamie Lee Curtis seems to have fucked Michael Myers up a hell of a lot more than he has her. I think it just knows how predictable it is and so tries to be imaginative. There's another scene for example where a character is going to make a run for it and it's so obvious that they're going to die that to even say that they do isn’t really a spoiler. However, how they die is the fun part with us expecting one thing to happen before it being something else completely. It's not quite Cabin In The Woods, with the humour being a bit more deadpan and subtle than that I suppose. There are laugh-out-loud moments as the family of characters bicker with each other but for the most, part the humour just comes with the brutality of the deaths. It's like a YouTube fail video but with a story included that gets its giggles more from moments of sheer brutality than anything else. I'm not sure why I laughed when somebody got a hammer to the head but I know that I did and I'm pretty sure that I was supposed to.

Nice to see someone with an honest dating profile picture!
In terms of the film’s style, I'd say that the biggest creative force behind it is probably its lack of money. Clearly the budget of You're Next wouldn't keep Michael Bay in clean mirrors and wank tissues however it often seems that restrictions are what force creativity. As such, the script of You're Next is obviously one of its biggest strengths, by drawing on things such as Straw Dogs, Miss Marple and by the end, let’s face it... Scooby Doo. Some people might not like the third act but I just thought that the more ridiculous everything became, the funnier it was too. The first third sets the family up, the second third has the attackers start killing and the final third explains why. Yes, it's a bit over the top and stupid, but with something as enjoyable as this, I really don't care. You could even argue that it throws in a little credit crunch subtext too as the intolerable family being slaughtered have made millions from working at some large and evil corporation. In that respect, every kill gets a cheer because pretty much everybody other than the leading lady are proper pantomime arse-holes. In terms of the films execution, I suppose it's a little Wes Craven however the soundtrack is surely John Carpenter all the way. Whenever the music kicked in, I wasn't sure whether I was meant to be tense because somebody might get killed or because a one eyed Kurt Russell was about to drop from the ceiling and kill some cunt in a William Shatner mask.

You're Next is by no means a classic but if you're looking for a way to kill ninety minutes and enjoy seeing idiots get stabbed through the skull, then other than going to therapy you can certainly do worse than this. I've obviously seen it once now and I'd be sad if I died before ever seeing it again, which is a good sign, I suppose. In their review of it, Empire Magazine concluded by saying of the director that 'Wingard is on his way to becoming the next Sam Raimi'. That's a bold statement and one that I don't entirely agree with. This is the only thing I've seen him do but Raimi is such a singular voice that to say somebody is ‘the next him’ is the horror-fan equivalent of drawing a picture of the Prophet Muhammad... You just don't do it. However, I was really impressed with this and if so, really look forward to whatever the guy has planned next. Before I saw this, I had a baseball bat next to my bed so that I could defend myself from any intruders. Having seen it I know have nail-board by my door, knives under my pillows, a broken blender that's ready to go and a cup and string going from my window to the nearest police station. Not only is You're Next a bloody good film but it provides essential information on how to sleep comfortably at night. At this point, it'd almost be a shame if nobody ever broke in... ah well. Thanks for reading and see you next time, motherfuckers! 

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