It happens at least once a year. A horror film premieres at a film festival and emerges surrounded by such buzz that it becomes a gotta-see-it phenomenon. The problem is you can’t always trust the word of mouth from an audience. I once suffered through a horror fest screening of Chillerama, a movie even the most forgiving horror fans have noted to be a new low for the genre. You’d never guess that from the abundant cheers I heard at the showing, which was packed and had the filmmakers present. I’m glad people enjoy themselves at the movies, but that crowd was applauding a turkey with no legs.
Over the years, horror movies have emerged with pre-release, word-of-mouth approval and ended up a total bust. The lousy V/H/S and uneven The House of the Devil come to mind. Add the far worse You’re Next to the boneyard.
In the opening scene, an older man and his younger girlfriend engage in one of the worst-staged sex scenes I’ve ever witnessed (c’mon, even soap operas aren’t this lazy). Post-coitus, he walks into another room, while his girlfriend wanders around, barely attired, and into corridors with no lights on. Clearly, she’s never seen a horror movie before. After an initial slaughter, one of them discovers the words “YOU’RE NEXT” written on a screen glass door and is murdered as well. Then we meet a whole new batch of victims-to-be, gathering in a large house, isolated out in the country. The occasion is a family reunion and, following an annoying, shaky camera reveal of an attack by arrows, a home invasion is in place. Sorry, rich white dudes. You’re next!
A word-of-mouth favorite from the festival circuit two years ago, this fiasco should have stayed on the shelf. The hype is puzzling, unless you’re the easiest to please horror fan (which true genre die hards certainly are not). I love horror films, especially the ones that are scary, suspenseful, jolting, smart and linger in the mind when they’re over.
But even with lowered expectations, there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before. In addition to The Strangers (which haunted me for years), April Fool’s Day, Last House on the Left, Tourist Trap, any Friday the 13th installment and even Home Alone have all done this far better.
This only offers cheap jump “scares,” globs of bursting blood packets and gooshy sound effects. The acting is at the level of a bad high school play and the filmmaking is equally drab and amateurish. Most low budget horror films aren’t this ugly to look at or so unimpressively staged. Unless semi-spooky masks and actors grabbing their throats and making gurgling sounds scare you, there’s nothing here to recommend for even the more adventurous film goers.
I won’t hint at it but will state that the plot’s “big twist” is a massive let down and not even on par with a bad Shyamalan capper. Once the reason for the attack is revealed, it’s an alarmingly stupid plan. The Cabin in the Woods could mop the (bloody) floor with this one in every way.
Recently, horror fans have directed me to great films like Let the Right One In and Insidious, so I’m willing to forgive the misplaced affection for junk like this. For those who loved Chillerama, I’ve got a real winner for you. Wanna spend more money on a movie ticket than the filmmakers did on the budget? For a piece of garbage? Then step right up–you’re next!
Rated R / 96 Min.