Horror is evolving as a genre. Although your local multiplex is still loaded with the usual contenders, look a bit closer and you’ll find the latest drama, thriller, or crime offering is closer to horror than you might expect. In this bi-weekly series, Joey Keogh presents a film not generally classified as horror and argues why it exhibits the qualities of a great flight flick, and therefore deserves the attention of fans as an example of Not Quite Horror. This week, it’s teen revenge thriller You Get Me.
Spare a thought for poor Bella Thorne. In spite of a lucrative Disney career and demonstrable talent in transitioning into more adult fare (see: her pitch-perfect mean girl/wannabe famous chick in The DUFF), girl can’t seem to catch a break. The media remains considerably, and consistently, more invested in her social media antics and seeming inability to launch a movie ever (Amityville: The Awakening should be along any day now, right?).
Those curious about Thorne’s work outside of Twitter and Instagram (where, by her own admittance, she makes most of her money) could do worse than You Get Me, a schlocky (but not quite schlocky enough) teen revenge thriller currently streaming on Netflix that does not feature the titular line even once (boo). In keeping with her desire to branch out into more difficult roles, Thorne here plays the spurned, possibly crazy lover, not the paramour. Go figure.
It’s an interesting choice for both actor and director, because it’d be difficult for anyone to imagine a red-blooded young male spurning the advances of the stunning Thorne but, as with Erika Christensen in the criminally underrated Swimfan, looks can be deceiving (or so we’re told). Naturally, it should come as no surprise that You Get Me was both scripted and directed by a couple of dudes (each making their feature film debut–again, go figure).
Thorne is Holly, the wild, mysterious girl with whom the drippy Tyler (Taylor John Smith, a man so bland they named him twice) spends a magical weekend after turning on his girlfriend, Alison (Halston Sage, furthering her career as the go-to pretty, popular following turns in Goosebumps, Before I Fall, et al) for supposedly being a slut. Or something. The semantics aren’t important. What is important is that Tyler cheats, then feels bad about it.
Crucially, however, his guilt only begins when Holly turns out to be nuts. And Alison explains how she’s actually not a slut (anymore). As You Get Me‘s hilariously over the top trailer showcases, this movie is all about Holly’s bizarre reaction to being rejected. We’re talking a murderous reaction, wherein the only logical course of action is to kill Alison in some amazingly gruesome way. This allows for a variety of decent PG-13 jump scares and gore.
The movie was clearly inspired by more adult genre offerings, but the desire to target the super-lucrative teen market means that, for the most part, it doesn’t go quite crazy enough to justify itself as a baby horror movie. Thankfully, what You Get Me lacks in actual scares it makes up for in ludicrous performance choices, particularly when it comes to Smith, who has two settings: brooding and wild-eyed angry. Often, he’s more murderous than Holly.
Tyler’s reaction to learning that Holly has enrolled in the high school both he and Alison attend is bonkers, and there are several points throughout the movie where he looks on the verge of smacking his stalker around the place (never okay, MRAs). As with most movies of this sub-genre (see: this year’s hilarious Unforgettable) the women are either portrayed as loons or angels, so Thorne and Sage aren’t given much to do.
Whereas Sage can tackle this kind of thing in her sleep, Thorne finds surprising nuance in her character’s increasingly erratic behaviour, even selling a final act wink that would otherwise come off about as cheesy as Tyler’s dumb bro grin. One almost wishes Holly got the last laugh, kicking both Tyler and his precious little princess to the curb before sauntering off into the night to cause havoc elsewhere.
Now THAT would’ve been a real revenge movie.