Directed by: Adam Wingard
R. 94 mins
A clever spin on the home invasion movie, You’re Next is spirited and ruthlessly confident with its blend of dark humour and grisly thrills. The film focuses on the ill-fated Davison family as they gather in the lavish country home of their parents for a 35th wedding anniversary. The entire clan isn’t exactly charming, which is why the bloodshed proves oddly satisfying. The father (Rob Moran) has made his fortune in the defense industry and spends much of his time being a pushover to his wife (Barbara Crampton), whose hysterical anxiety makes everything seem like a soap opera. And the adult kids are equally off-putting, most notably Felix, who seems tense and full of greed. What begins as a simple supper soon turns into screaming match between two brothers, one of whom takes issue with the fact that his brother has brought along his teaching assistant-turned-girlfriend (Sharni Vinson) to the family gathering. Bickering over professionalism, rehashing things from their past and hurling accusations left and right, the chaos is suddenly interrupted by arrows crashing through the windows, killing one of the dinner guests. Panic ensues as the Davison family scurries underneath the table and behind chairs, desperately searching for a motive. The film continues to build momentum as we discover that one of the dinner guests could be more skilled at killing than the masked invaders themselves. Their motive remains unclear for much of the film as the invaders don animal masks and yield deadly weapons to ruthlessly hunt their prey until no one stands in their way.
The violence is swift and the dysfunctional family members make for slight comic relief between each gruesome killing. Much like Cabin in the Woods, this twist on classic conventions is smart, yet still manages to frighten. Audiences will appreciate the twists and turns, with nods to classic horror motifs and characters that playfully subvert stereotypes. Perhaps most notable though, is Sharni Vinson, who delivers a memorably strong performance.
For die-hard horror fans, and even those who have yet to be converted, You’re Next will prove highly enjoyable. The only criticism, of which there isn’t many, is that there are just so many players in this game of cat and mouse – in order to reach the final conclusion, so many will have to die before we are left with the classic Final Girl. Wingard toys with this idea, never reassuring us that she will, in fact, survive, but with such a rich history, fans of the horror genre may feel like one kill after another is less horrifying, and more a step-by-step process to get to some answers. Wingard increases the brutality of each kill with some pretty creative, albeit gruesome, ways to die, but some may feel numbed to it all after the first few Davisons bite the bullet. Thankfully, there’s enough twists and turns throughout the film that one can’t help but stand back and admire Wingard’s brash “why not” attitude. Overall, You’re Next is fresh, filthy fun.