1. You're Next is officially a horror movie—it is sold the way all horror movies are sold these days, with an ominous poster image and an appealingly simple, self-sustaining premise—but it's really a comedy. It is a comedy in the way Army of Darkness is a comedy, or The Cabin in the Woods is a comedy. Yes, people do get impaled in all sorts of different fashions, but there's never any sense that there are real stakes, that these are real people whom you care about, that there's really something to be afraid of. The Conjuring, one of the scarier movies of the last few years, wants you to jump out of your chair. You're Next wants you to leave the theater with a big dumbass grin on your face. It succeeds.
2. This isn't from the classical, gothic-dread horror school that Conjuring director James Wan adores; this is in the full-bore Fangoria fanboy strike zone. This movie's made by people who go to a lot of underground film festivals. (The movie even makes a joke about this, with one character asking another if underground film festival movies are literally shown under the ground, like, in basements.) Low-budget indies of this kind sometimes feel a little too Fantastic Fest circle jerky—see the dreadful Hobo With a Shotgun—but when they're done right, what they might lack in polish and acumen, they more than make up for in verve and pure "hey, guys, let's make a movie and make it awesome!" joy. The makers of You're Next are having a terrific time.
3. The movie is as simple as you could possible imagine; the only way it could have less plot would be if you just locked all the characters in an empty room and duct-taped their mouths shut. (This would be a substantial improvement on a lot of movies.) The patriarchs of a wealthy family invited all their children from across the country to come visit them in their palatial estate, and while they're having dinner, out of nowhere, someone starts shooting arrows at them from outside the house. They're wearing the sheep and wolf masks from the poster; they're trying to kill everyone inside; and no one knows why. That's the setup and the follow-through. The movie ends up explaining more than it needs to, really. It might have been scarier if the intruders were unmotivated, unseen. and unknowable; they're just here to kill. But again: "Scary" isn't exactly what You're Next is going for.
4. No, this is one of those movies that has a ton of shots explicitly meant to get rowdy audiences out of their seats and yelling: An underground-film-festival crowd, to be specific. This is a "Hell yeah!!!" movie if there ever was one. The movie's smart enough to give us a relatable badass heroine (Sharni Vinson) at its center, the girlfriend of one of the brothers in from out of town who, as it turns out, happens to have grown up in a survivalist community in the Australian Outback. She has some skills that are about to come in handy. In fact, she turns the last 30 minutes of the movie into a gruesome Home Alone.
5. There might've been some sort of class allegory to make here—the rich attempting to fortify themselves in their castles and all that—if the filmmakers cared to make it. But they're too busy finding different ways to goof on the familiar, thin premise. (That the family in the film is constantly bickering is a joke the movie's smart not to take too far.) This is basically just a series of ingenious setups with fan-pleasing payoffs, a clever, well-constructed cheapo horror film that's more interested in making you laugh along with it than anything else. Is it scary? Not really. But it sure is a lot of fun.
Grierson & Leitch is a regular column about the movies. Follow us on Twitter, @griersonleitch.