UK Release Date: 28th August 2013
Runtime: 94 minutes
Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Scott Barrett
Starring: Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Nicholas Tucci, Ti West
Synopsis: A family reunion at a posh country house is interrupted when the guests are stalked by a gang wearing animal masks.
Home invasion horror movies have a rich history. This year, though, the only entry in the genre has been the disappointing Ethan Hawke movie The Purge. Despite a solid premise, it reduced the genre to running around in the dark bumping into weaponry. Adam Wingard’s You’re Next, however, is an efficient slasher movie that harks back to the subgenre’s heyday in the 1980s.
Crispian (AJ Bowen) and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) head out to a family reunion at a secluded country home. He clashes with smug brother Drake (Joe Swanberg) as the family (including horror director Ti West) assembles for dinner. Their quarrels soon become trivial when one of the family is killed by a crossbow bolt and a gang of masked, murderous thugs break into the building.
You’re Next feels like the kind of movie that Hollywood would’ve released in the post-Halloween 80s. It doesn’t ‘reinvent’ the slasher movie in any way, but it does stand up as a great example of the genre. Balancing its creative kills and chilling scares with some very witty dialogue, it’s not just a scary film; it’s a funny one as well. It’s never an out and out laughfest like Shaun of the Dead, or as intelligent as last year’s The Cabin in the Woods, but it’s always a bloody good time.
Director Adam Wingard, fresh from his part in anthology of chills V/H/S, helms this with a very sure footing. The opening act of You’re Next is a masterclass in building chills rather than kills, with innovative scares arriving without the usual “quiet… quiet… LOUD” cliché to warn the audience in advance. By the time the true nature of the threat becomes clear, You’re Next has placed itself alongside The Conjuring as one of the year’s scariest films.
Unfortunately, it’s at that point that the film starts to falter. The script, by Wingard’s fellow V/H/S alum Scott Barrett, reveals who is behind the bloodbath too early for any mystery to have been built. The kills remain inventive and there’s a healthy dose of humour, but the nameless threat worked far more in terms of scares. By that time though, You’re Next is too much fun for it to matter very much.
A lot of that fun is down to the actors. The entire ensemble is a cut above what the genre usually offers, with Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen very good at trading zingers. Sharni Vinson shines through as a true breakout star and You’re Next will surely be the springboard for her career as a genre superstar. Witty, charming and even scary in certain scenes, her character is the perfect anchor for a self-aware horror flick like this.
The overriding feeling at the end of You’re Next, after the bleakness of its ending has passed, is that Adam Wingard is a director who has now found his feet in the horror genre. Along with Sinister’s Scott Derrickson, he is one of the auteurs to watch. With You’re Next, he has produced a self-aware, very accomplished stalk and slash movie that manages to be horrifying and hilarious at the same time.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.