Weekend Forecast for August 23-25, 2013
By Reagen Sulewski
August 23, 2013
Every year, there's a couple of weekends I'm sorely tempted to blow off, due to a monumentally uninteresting lineup of films. Usually these occur early in the year and late in the summer or mid-September. But for a sort of cultish film opening this weekend, this would be one of those to throw on the pile.
That film is decidedly not the one that got a jump on the weekend, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Yet another young adult novel adaptation but not, as my producers are notifying me just now, a fast-tracked Beautiful Creatures sequel (you can understand my confusion), it stars (is that the right word? Apparently yes) Lily Collins as a young woman who discovers that she belongs to an ancient race of... somethings... that hunts down demons that are attempting to take over the human world. Faster than you can say “I can haz new Twilight now?” she's using her new powers to join a group of heavily-tattooed other hunters that only she can see.
Although it's based on a series of six books and has that presumptive semi-colon in the title, one needn't get in line for the second film just yet. Wednesday's opening figure was just over $3 million. Once again, studios forgot the “making sure there's actually a buzz behind your franchise” part of the franchise-building exercise. Then again, other young adult franchises have had something distinctive about them (yes, even Twilight), while a lot of the substandard copies have looked like generic mashups of every fantasy trope. The Mortal Instruments seems no different and should limp home to around $11 million this weekend.
This leaves things wide open for You're Next to take the weekend. A horror movie from some of the people behind the cult hit V/H/S, it's more of a traditional horror film, if you could call a bloodied-up version of Home Alone traditional. In it, a “nice,” upper-class family retreats to a secluded mansion to celebrate a milestone, when masked villains start shooting up the place with arrows, and then stalk the scattered and terrified survivors around with axes. One member of the group (oh, the female non-relative – how *novel*) discovers a bit of a talent for fighting back through direct and indirect means, and your home-invasion survival horror film is *on*.
Getting uncharacteristically strong reviews for an indie horror film, it echos a bit of this summer's The Purge, albeit with a bit of a comedic edge. I'm not out to claim Ethan Hawke is any kind of box office superstar (as next week will show to the contrary), but one thing between You're Next and the status of a huge hit is any kind of recognizable name. Just someone, anyone, for audiences to hook on to that they've heard of could have turned this into a monstrous hit. All the same, these well-reviewed horror projects have a way of surprising people, and a $15 million opening weekend would be outstanding for this bargain production.