"You're Next," an unmemorable, meaningless, yet well-made home-invasion movie, is exactly as it's depicted in the trailers, a rarity nowadays when most films are marketed as something they're not so as to reach the broadest possible audience.
So if you've seen the trailers for "You're Next," then you already know it's about a family reunion at an isolated country estate gone horribly wrong when attackers from the outside, dressed in paramilitary garb and animal masks, begin picking each family member off one by one with crossbows and an assortment of sharp and blunt objects.
And that's about all there is to "You're Next" in terms of premise, plot and themes, except a few twists that are so predictable they are barely twists.
The above image shows Nick Tucci and Wendy Glenn, right, in a scene from 'You're Next.'Below, another scene from the film is shown.
The movie is as honest and unpretentious as its marketing campaign, an admirable trait, but only interesting if your kind of thing is watching helpless people take arrows and axes to the head as family members watch in horror, paralyzed by their own hysteria.
Who these people are and why they are terrorized is not the point, so when the person behind everything makes their inevitable confession in a scene of forced, deplorable dialogue, we don't really care.
Because "You're Next" is more concerned with how and where characters die than personalities and motives, both of which are almost nonexistent.
But even the movie's obligations to its genre are hardly met, making each death, regardless of place and manner, entirely inconsequential.
It's a shame, because with a better script and deeper characterizations, "You're Next" might have been pretty good.
The direction from Adam Wingard is self-assured and straightforward, setting a grim, yet whimsical tone early on thanks to a recurring musical motif that is unsettling all by itself.
But directorial confidence means nothing if it lacks a point of view, some sort of moral center against which the audience can compare their own. An objective perspective is fine as well, but "You're Next" lacks even that. Instead, Wingard's direction suggests he is completely uninterested in his characters and what their deaths mean, resulting in a movie that betrays its early intimations of family drama.
"You're Next" prioritizes genre instead of using it to explore the complexities of lingering, familial resentments that bubble to the surface as soon as the reunion begins.
But the tensions are quickly dismissed with the first death, because there's no time to resolve sibling rivalries when lives are at stake, even if one scene of black comedy features a character who forgets about the near-lethal arrow in his back just to argue with his brother about who is the fastest runner in the family.
It's the only scene in the movie that has any emotional heft because it forsakes plot advancement for a seemingly trivial argument that ultimately gives us a little bit of insight into the people we're supposed to be rooting for.
Apart from that scene, everything else is pure genre, a self-contained story that has nothing to say about anything except its own plot, which is so underdeveloped that it's indistinguishable from the premise.