Review: You're Next
Masked killers wreak havoc upon the unassuming Davison family at their mansion getaway in the middle of the woods. As the family panics amid the initial chaos, the girlfriend of one son starts to take control.
Sharni Vinson and AJ Bowen play one of the slightly awkward couples taking up this retreat, while regarded horror director Ti West makes a small appearance as a daughter’s boyfriend, who happens to be a filmmaker and wears a scarf.
It’s with a twist, but not necessarily twisted – and it comes early and often. You’re Next, a title that evokes fatalism but is in fact entirely hokey, strives for serious comedy in the bloody home invasion genre while maintaining suspense. So when a retired couple welcomes their four children and respective partners to an anniversary dinner party, director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett make sure to put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.
Sibling rivalry and passive aggression take shape as the ten gatherers (a very nice number if you’re looking for a sizeable body count) sit down for dinner, unaware that at their only neighbour’s house, a pair of corpses are rotting away.
An arrow through the window abruptly curtails the infighting, but it comes following just enough time spent with these folks that you don’t care most of them are about to die. The characters are made to feel authentic, but not at all dramatic, so as they complain and moan and cry, you’re startled by the brutality of their death, but not their loss.
The only person who conjures a fan base is the one who earns it, as Erin, the sweet Australian girlfriend of the shy and plump Crispian, acts with speed and poise when the night takes its turn. The home invasion becomes more a survivalist film, with a lone rooting interest, and lots of outrageous behavior and hysterical amusement.
Thankfully and wonderfully (and thankfully), this horror-thriller offering (that’s been sitting around for two years) forgoes torture porn and female sexual abuse, instead culling a protagonist who finds motive in simply wanting to stay alive – not necessarily revenge.
Sledgehammers, crossbows, screwdrivers, pots, pans, and a couple cleverly places traps lead to plenty of cracked bones, sliced arteries, and spurting blood in such a way that will make horror fans squirm but not completely reel. You’re Next has a feel of Scream and The Cabin in the Woods in that it wishes to subvert and occasionally parody a genre, while trying to add comedic elements and embrace its conventions.
It ultimately wins, as despite some absurd commentary and antics, you root for Erin and her clever ways, enjoying the bloodshed along the way without ever getting too attached. Which is good, because plenty of things become unattached by the end of the night in this grisly household.
Should You See It?
It is the most entertaining horror film of the year, which may not say too much just yet, but it’s a welcome departure from the paranormal and the found footage. And if you saw it at Midnight Madness years ago, it’s worth a second viewing.