'You're Next'

Despite a few flat notes, the home invasion movie “You’re Next” hearkens back to a simpler time of horror, a time when throat slashings outnumbered jump scares.  

The movie centers around a rich family whose reunion/dinner party is interrupted by a group of cross-bow wielding psychopaths wearing tactical gear and children’s animal masks.

It’s directed by Adam Wingard, who lived and worked in Birmingham during the early part of his career. He directed a segment of the found-footage horror film “V/H/S.” More recently, he was at the helm of “Blair Witch,” which debuted Sept. 16. He’s also slated to do a remake of 2010’s “I Saw the Devil,” a Korean horror/action masterpiece that’s worth the subtitles if you haven’t seen it.

“You’re Next” debuted in the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, but didn’t get released nationwide until 2013.

I recognized all of one person from the cast: Rob Moran, who played the rich guy with a private bowling alley in “Kingpin.” In “You’re Next,” he portrays Paul, the wealthy, unapproving dad.

Paul, his wife, their four kids and those kids’ plus-ones are in the middle of a Thanksgiving Day-style spat when the arrows start flying. And I’m telling you, these rich folks are useless when things turn sideways. One son keeps whining for a Vicodin for his wound. Meanwhile, the mother —  who just saw her child murdered —  has to go lie down and let everyone else deal with the intruders.

Luckily, one son’s Australian girlfriend, played by Sharni Vinson, keeps her head on a swivel. Turns out she grew up in a survivalist camp in the outback. So Aussie girlfriend quarterbacks the survival effort while keeping the rich kids from hurting themselves with the pointy objects.

The amount of gore in the film and the inventive means by which many characters die is vintage 1980s — complete with a bit of synthesizer film score during a few scenes.

I also have to give writer Simon Barrett credit. He reveals the motive for the band of killers, and it’s surprisingly straightforward. Not that I’m against psychopaths killing characters willy-nilly, but in my humble opinion a clearly defined motive helps move the story along.

A few moments of cinematic laziness do sour things a little, though. For example, one of the sons has a girlfriend who’s a bad person. You can tell this because she smokes and uses heavy eyeliner. She wasn’t wearing a black leather jacket, at least. Another example: middle child Crispian, Aussie hero’s boyfriend, says to his lady as she’s taking charge, “Erin, I’ve never seen you act like this.” Thanks, Crispian! Viewers would have missed that fact had you not booped it on the nose.

Also, the camerawork in a few scenes is so shaky that it becomes obvious why executives picked Wingard for the new “Blair Witch” installment.

Disregarding those minor blemishes, “You’re Next” is worth the money to rent it. At a time when studios are churning out formulaic movies with no heart, this flick reminds you of the times when horror was fun.

Anniston Star writers are watching a horror movie every night in October for #StarHorrorfest. Read all the reviews at AnnistonStar.com/Horrorfest.