Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Sharni Vinson, A.J Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Rob Moran, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Barbara Crampton
Plot: Erin (Vinson) is invited to a family gathering to meet her new boyfriend’s parents, but the evening is ruined when they begin getting stalked by masked strangers.
You’re Next could possibly be classed as the underdog movie of the year. With a pretty average year for the horror genre (The Conjuring seemed like it would be the only one that would stick in anyone’s memory), You’re Next came out of nowhere and surprised everyone. I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like it. Finally, I managed to work my way around to see what the fuss is about.
Surprisingly, it isn’t really much of a horror movie. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing, because this movie is laughably bad at being scary. The animal masks are dull, the soundtrack doesn’t fit what we are seeing and the movie almost always mistimes its jump scares. The poor trailer is pretty much an example of how terrible a horror movie You’re Next is. But, Wingard manages to salvage this movie by being excellent at every other aspect of the film. For one, he finally gets the tricky task of accomplishing a horror comedy right. I haven’t properly seen one I have liked in a long while (Scream did nothing for me), yet You’re Next is really funny. The trick is that no one overly works for the joke; the build-up allows the actors to bounce off of each other naturally. Joe Swanberg’s character is simply amusing to spend time with, on account of him being an idiot. He isn’t given an obvious gag to win everyone over, yet the actor’s comedy timing means that he doesn’t need to be. Sometimes, we don’t even need jokes. The horror is so ridiculous that the movie lets us revel in the cheesiness of it all. The twist is kind of a silly one, but it is meant to be, so the movie laughs at itself. The movie has several scenes where it stands back and just chuckles at a particular moment. We share the joke and it makes You’re Next very easy to recommend.
Its next big success is the action. You’re Next slowly leaves its horror roots and becomes a brutal action movie. You stop caring that this movie isn’t bothered about scaring anyone. You are enjoying an entertaining battle of wits between these murderers and Sharni Vinson’s incredible performance as Erin, in a claustrophobic space. After a while, you realise that you are watching a very clever twist on Die Hard. Erin is an incredible character to get behind, effortlessly cool the moment that trouble rears its ugly head. You will definitely be cheering every time she gets one up on the killers. Rather than going for scares, Wingard realises it is much more fun to pretend to lead up to a jump scare, only for Erin to handle the situation completely unfazed. Slowly, almost like the ending to Scream but far more subtle, the killers become the horror movie victim, falling prey to booby traps and Erin lurking in the shadows. As you watch the second half of the movie, you will be unable to not be impressed by Wingard’s vision and intelligence.
In fact, I might go as far as to say this is one of the greatest ‘home invasion’ movies I have seen, at least in a long while. Home invasion movies were once a good idea, but they are so cheap and easy to make, these days they come across as a cop-out for any horror director. Wingard realises he can do something different with the genre and this makes You’re Next feel like a more worthy excuse to use these confined spaces. Even if the main difference is the total bloody gore, which never comes across as gore porn, but feels more like a satisfying pay-off for a very tense storyline.
Final Verdict: Yes, it isn’t very scary, but You’re Next is much more than that. Clever, witty and endlessly entertaining. That sounds like a success to me.