If the summer hit "The Conjuring" showed that there was still life left in the classical approach to housebound horror, the home invasion corker "You're Next" is proof that the right combination of yuks, yikes and yecchs can also pump creative blood into an all-too-schlocky genre as well.
Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter-producer Simon Barrett aren't out to reinvent the wheel with their story of a country estate family reunion — parents celebrating a wedding anniversary, four adult children with varying levels of privileged obnoxiousness, plus their significant others — that goes horribly wrong when crazed masked killers lay siege with a grab bag of implements.
But the surprisingly adept mixture of tones — naturalism, dysfunctional family satire, winking slasher nostalgia, twisty vengeance thriller — is offbeat enough to keep even hardened connoisseurs of body-count entertainment on their toes. (At a certain point, calling out character stupidity just feels like party-pooping.)
Even more remarkable is Wingard's understanding that answering horrific, seemingly senseless carnage with a second half that reveals a smart, tough, resourceful hero is the shrewdest way to keep an ongoing bloodbath cathartically enjoyable. In other words, there's a wickedly energized purity at play in "You're Next," making it an agreeably disreputable good time.
MPAA rating: R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
In general release
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun