You're Next (2013)
Directed by Adam Wingard
Writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard proved that they are horror filmmakers that deliver with their film A Horrible Way to Die, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. This year, however, the duo wanted to shock and amaze the eager Midnight Madness crowd, and just like with last year’s premiere screening of James Wan’s Insidious, the home invasion chiller You’re Next was well received with just as many cheers as there were screams.
You’re Next doesn’t waste any time on hiding its antagonists as viewers as privy to watching the film’s masked assailants unleash artery-slashing mayhem on a doomed couple in their isolated country home in the opening prologue. Shortly after the audience catches its breath, filmgoers are introduced to the Davisons, a wealthy couple who have invited their four adult children and their significant others to a quaint and serene family weekend getaway at the couple’s country home, conveniently only a few steps away from the slain couple’s home shown minutes before.
Like most family gatherings, it is full of unspoken drama and sibling rivalries, specifically between the over-opinionated Drake (Joe Swanberg) and his brother, Crispian (A Horrible Way to Die’s horror break-out star AJ Bowen), a college professor who has invited his former student now girlfriend, Erin (played by Australian R&B singer Sharni Vinson), to meet the skeptical Davison clan.
When the family dinner is abruptly interrupted by a horrifying crossbow attack, the Davisons must fight to stay alive from the murderous intruders hiding in and out of the family home. However, the assailants were not accounting for Erin’s survival skills and killer instincts, and the hunters quickly become the prey in this action-packed and gore-infested home invasion thriller.
You’re Next brings a whole new meaning to the term "dysfunctional family", and it does so in a brutal yet darkly humorous way. The film hooks horror aficionados in early on as it successfully builds tension with a slasher-friendly opening prologue, a looping song playing on a CD player and the sense of impending doom for each of its protagonists. The eerie setting of the country home siege is amplified with a John Carpenter-inspired score and unsettling and creative kills that will make gorehounds applaud with joy.
On the other hand, those that are expecting a terrifying experience like The Strangers (an obvious inspiration for the film) will be sorely disappointed because once the calculated yet foreseeable twist comes into play, the film loses its frightening edge and fails to break new ground in the sub-genre like its trailer and synopsis alluded to.
That’s not to say the film loses its bloodlust intensity for You’re Next never loses its ability to entertain and excite, and that is largely due to newcomer Sharni Vinson’s strong and likable performance as the anti damsel in distress. Last seen horrifying audiences in Step Up 3D, Vinson brings another horrifying performance (for all the right reasons, mind you) and kicks some serious ass as Erin, a final girl with the Linda Hamilton attitude.
Overall You’re Next may not be the slasher film of the decade that will change the tone of horror, but it still provides a clever spin to the home invasion sub-genre.
3 1/2 out of 5