Director – Adam Wingard
Cast – Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Margaret Laney, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton, L.C. Holt, Simon Barrett, Lane Hughes
Release Year – 2013
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Adam Wingard has become one of the genre’s most notable directors these days, writing/directing/acting in V/H/S, V/H/S2, and The ABCs of Death, but it all began when You’re Next hit film festivals in September of 2011. The reviews stormed in saying the film was the fresh breath the genre needed, and after sitting on the shelf for two years the fans can now see that this really is the fresh experience we’ve been waiting for. Home invasion films have been quite the rage in recent times, with Them, The Strangers, The Purge, and The Aggression Scale immediately coming to ind, and while Them is by far the best home invasion experience in my opinion, You’re Next has joined it at the top of the list. Brutally violent with its own sense of charming allure, this is an experience I highly suggest you be a part of.
When the Davidson family anniversary dinner is interrupted by a gang of masked, axe-welding murderers, the hapless victims are trapped and killed off one by one…until a family guest proves to be the best killer of them all.
It really surprises me that this film has been ready for the masses for almost two years but naturally, for reasons unfathomable, Hollywood likes to take its time in distributing good horror. Adam Wingard sidekick Simon Barrett(V/H/S, V/H/S2, The ABCs of Death)’s story takes the usual home invasion / slasher element and gives it a bolstered upgrade where the twists and turns not only come early but keep coming until the end credits roll. The story wastes little time in getting to the horror, with minor introductions taking up the first 15 minutes or so until the killers close upon the family estate. As with most slasher-esque flicks, the killers are what sell the experience and You’re Next relies heavily on its antagonists for entertainment. The unnamed killers not only don unusually simple masks but archaic weaponry that requires them to get in close for the kill, and that makes for some bloody good deaths that left me laughing in my seat. As mentioned in the storyline, at least one of the guests has an insane ability to fight back, and the killers meeting their match only upped the ante and thankfully…the killings too. Violence sells the flick, as is the case with most horror films, but in this case the experience offers much more than the usual splatter. It is far from an outright horror comedy, but the laughs provided from both the character play and the insane violence made this an experience that left me gleaming in the end.
Adam Wingard has taken part in directing some pretty cool flicks while You’re Next sat on the shelves waiting for a release, but this is his horror opus. From the opening scene to the last second of peace and tranquility before the killings hit, there is a heavy sense of dread gracing the screen. The location is simple and perfect, providing not only good atmosphere but making it very obvious to the viewer that the soon-to-be victims will not have any nearby help coming to their aid. When the horror hits it hits hard and in shocking fashion, never relenting for more than a few minutes for the remainder of the film. Wingard executes his horror to perfection, from the terror experienced by the overwhelmed family members to to the calm and calculated maniacal killers delivering brutal terror via a crossbow and a few axes. As he should, Wingard employs lots of live action gore and kills during the numerous kill sequences, and thankfully he does not shy away from them either. We are given full-frontal access to the brutality, which was pretty darn incredible given the weaponry, aside from the crossbow, required some very close quarter kills. Despite the awesome horror, what really stood out to me with this experience was the film’s musical score. Earlier I mentioned that the film was “charismatic”, and that stems from Wingard’s usage of the score and how he expertly implemented it into certain scenes at just the right time. This was so incredibly well done that I actually leaned over to my buddy’s seat and said to him, “The score is incredible…” and he replied with “I was just about to say that.”. Oftentimes horror fans will overlook what they cannot see, but in the case of You’re Next even what don’t see will leave you pleased in the end. On top of all this, fans of recent horror will be pleased to see quite a few notable (for the genre) actors in this piece. The House of the Devil / The Innkeepers / The Sacrament director Ti West plays a small but important role in the film, Joe Swanberg (A Horrible Way To Die, V/H/S, The Sacrament) and AJ Bowen (The Signal, The House of the Devil, Hatchet II, A Horrible Way To Die, Chillerama, Rites of Spring, The Sacrament) both play heavy roles, and lead protagonist Sharni Vinson starred in last year’s Bait – giving the nerdier of us even more to marvel at and enjoy.
Overall, You’re Next is a breathe of fresh air for a genre that constantly sees Hollywood give good horror films the stiff arm. The story is enjoyable, the atmosphere is fantastic, and this comes with one of the most enjoyable scores I have ever witnessed in a horror film. Adam Wingard’s horror is great thanks to awesome antagonists and excellent execution of the brutal kills, making for an experience I highly suggest you check out on the big screen.