2013 is seriously starting to scare me. Recalling last year’s efforts, recapping 2012’s catalogue of horror releases was a chore because of how tremendously underwhelming the slate of titles ended up being. Besides Cabin In The Woods and a few other movies, the rest of the year was pretty much a wash, and I had a much easier time doing my “Worst Movies Of The Year” article over my “Best Of The Year” recap.
So why am I telling you this? Because here I am, writing another tremendously positive horror review, and I almost feel like there’s something wrong. What is this crazy place where I’m seeing equal amounts good and bad films? I’m handing out 4/5 star reviews left and right like Oprah on her holiday giving spree, and here I am, again, writing about the next horrifying bright spot of 2013 – Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard’s You’re Next.
Telling the story of a family who has to battle three masked home invaders who interrupt a lovely wedding anniversary party, one by one our victims start getting picked off, suffering grisly fates, as the motivations of our assailants slowly become uncovered. But when one of the partygoers starts to display a talent for surviving, it appears that the tables have a chance of turning – if she can stay alive long enough.
What’s so special about You’re Next is that Barrett’s story doesn’t exactly re-invent the wheel of home invasion horror, throwing expected twists and turns, but it provides numerous examples on how you can utilize the genre to its greatest potential, pimping out the wheel with spinning chrome rims, flashy LED lights, and some dope valve caps. Only adding to atmosphere is Wingard’s vision, showcasing abundant freshness and creativity that accentuates the typical creepiness of being watched without even knowing. What can I say, Barrett and Wingard are a horror tag team equatable to Kane and The Undertaker.
I haven’t been so engross, entertained, and mesmerized by a sub-genre effort since Michael Haneke’s Funny Games, as You’re Next hits the ground running and never loses momentum – from the very first bloody title card.
Looking at the cast, it’s just so much fun watching filmmaking friends like Ti West, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, and others participate in Wingard’s film, and the pleasant part is that they’re actually good, too. Playing a bunch of brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters, Barrett creates a family dynamic with plenty of animosity, diving into dysfunctional relationships head-first. Not only does this provide a bit of mystery as our characters are under siege, but Barrett also writes in some cheeky dark comedy as specific characters still bicker and fight even with death surrounding them. Laughter in horror can be a killer at times, but Barrett’s contained delivery provides nothing but hilarity for a nice change in pace every now and then.
Wingard’s directorial prowess takes care of the true horror though, especially in terms of deaths. Gorehounds will be squealing with joy as these animal-themed killers pulverize the Davison family, delivering one gruesome scene after the next. Between axes, tools, and crossbows, there’s a bevy of wonderful practical effects work at play, but as our main hero fights back and starts setting traps around the house, this is where Wingard’s true visual mastery shines through. Keeping the surprises just for you, one of the final kills in You’re Next will absolutely go down as one of my favorite horror kills ever, as I felt it completely necessary to stand and applaud the originality coming from the greatest horror use of a kitchen appliance – ever. I felt like a horror fan on Christmas – it was pure bliss.
Oh yeah, I think I’m in love with Sharni Vinson now, too. Her portrayal of heroine Erin is every big strong, smart, and sexy, as she displays brilliant survival skills that make her an instant Scream Queen. Seeing her fight back against these three burly masked men was actually believeable, because she wasn’t your typical bimbo hottie type horror cliche, as I truly believe Vinson can hang with the genre’s best queens (Danielle Harris, Sherri Moon Zombie, ect). Yes, I totally love a girl that can kick my ass.
Horror fans should do anything they can to catch You’re Next. The killers are brutal, the victims are well-acted, the effects are visually astonishing, and most of all, our filmmakers know how to have fun – unlimited amounts of fun. Wingard and Barrett have created one of those films that you show all of your friends separately just to give yourself a reason to watch it over and over again, delivering memorable genre moments that won’t soon be forgotten. As long as you’re not planning any trips into the middle of nowhere that involve big, spacious mansions, go support horror by checking out You’re Next – you’ll thank me later.
You're Next attacks the home invasion genre with life and energy, providing the best sub-genre experience since the original Funny Games.