Saturday, 19 April 2014

Feature - You're Next (2011 - Dir. Adam Wingard) vs. The Innkeepers (2011 - Dir. Ti West)

I've seen both You're Next and The Innkeepers recently and seeing as though there seems to be some kind of friendly connection between the directors, (they both directed segments of the dire V/H/S and Ti West actually appears in You're Next) I decided to pit them against each other.

Both films suffer from some failings of current (and past) horror films: a reliance on loud noises for scares, characters who split up and go into dark rooms armed only with a torch, and worst of all not being horrific or scary in the slightest. Now let's get to the differences.

You're Next bucks the trend of having a heroine who starts off weak and then increases in strength throughout the film. Erin (Sharni Vinson from Home and Away) is a different character altogether. She goes to a dinner party with her partner Crispian at his family's home. They have a bit of snap accompanied by some not too pleasant chat - Crispian gets accused of baby-snatching by his brother - and then the film turns into a house under siege type affair as the family gets attacked by blokes in white animal masks. 

Erin is a strong character right from the off. Problems are thrown her way and she just sorts them with ruthless efficiency. Normally I would be applauding the use of a strong female character (let's face facts, Hollywood seems to have forgotten all about them in Prometheus and Gravity) but here she's too strong, almost to the point of being super powered. It's as if kryptonite didn't exist in the Superman universe. I never felt that she was in any danger. It's more along the lines of Rorschach being sent to prison in Watchmen (and indeed Daredevil in The Devil, Inside and Out), he's not in prison with them, they're in prison with him. In those examples, it's completely cool, but here it kills any tension and destroys any chance of this being scary in the slightest. (It doesn't help matters either that the other female characters run around screaming at every single minor thing that happens.)

Two other problems I have with You're Next are the colour palette and the severe lack of gore. This has to be one of the most beige films going. Hearing the director talking to the colour grader must have been a thrill-a-minute, "No, that's way too much colour. I can actually see a blue pixel there. Make it more beige. Ah, that's better. Nice and bland." Then the gore: it feels more like a slasher from the eighties where severe censorship was rife. It looks like it's been cut badly and that somewhere out there is a director's cut that has all of the juicy violence reinstated. I doubt this is the case though.

The Innkeepers suffers massively from the stupid characters syndrome also but it gets away with it due to a fantastically likeable performance from Sara Paxton (a distant relation to Bill Paxton). Her reactions to scary occurrences are priceless and had me chuckling away at the sheer quirkiness of it all. It distracted me from the low quality of the actual scares. 

Claire (Sara Paxton) works at a soon to be abandoned hotel with her friend Luke (Pat Healy) and they are trying to investigate stories of a ghost that supposedly roams the hotel for Luke's new website. Funnily enough, spooky things start to happen. 

Ti West's film suffers from the same thing as his previous film The House of the Devil: a great central performance that has the viewer caring for the main character, a fantastic slow build up that lasts for the majority of the film, and then a useless ending that is over way too quick. In the finale things start to kick off, there's a bit of running around (with the obligatory torch) and then she hits a problem. One problem. That's your lot. She doesn't overcome successively difficult trials to reach a thrilling climax. No. Just the one. If Ti West can put together a slow burning start with a meaty ending he may be able to produce a cracking film. As it is...

If I had to sum up You're Next in one word it would be 'smug'. There is a pervasive sense of smugness to the whole production. Whereas, the word I would use for The Innkeepers would be 'charming'. Shame about the ending which badly cripples the overall rating but I would still watch it again. Anyway, let's see the final score for these two horror offerings.

You're Next - 2/10
The Innkeepers - 5/10


If you like these you could also try:
A Horrible Way to Die, The House of the Devil.


  1. I think we agree on most things about The Innkeepers, though I liked it a bit more with a 7/10,it held my attention, and the characters I actually cared if they would survive or not. Having said that, the ending has been done before in other horror movies.

    1. The Innkeepers has stuck in my mind and I'll be watching it again at some point. Like you, I cared about the characters which is quite rare for a horror film.