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You’re Next (2013)

September 13, 2013

VERDICT:
8/10 Animal Houses

More of this, please.

You’re Next is about an Australian gal who drives out to the country for her boyfriend’s family reunion. Everyone’s there and, as expected, no one’s getting along. They try to play nice for the sake of their parents, but things come to a head during the first family dinner. Brothers are yelling, parents are upset and one of the new boyfriends gets an arrow between his eyes. Once everyone realizes that Tariq’s been assassinated, it puts things into perspective right quick. Panic sets in and they batten down the hatches, but as this family tree gets shorter and shorter, this charming girl from a land down under becomes their best hope for survival.

First, it was The Strangers. Then, it was The Purge. Going off that synopsis, it might not sound like You’re Next is doing much to distance itself from such a disappointing lot. Going off that synopsis, it’s another home invasion movie starring dudes in creepy masks. Under someone else’s direction, you’d probably be right and this vicious cycle of mediocrity would continue on. But thanks to Adam Wingard, it’s good be wrong.

If you haven’t been introduced, Adam Wingard is part of this budding horror collective of sorts that’s been giving us winners like The House of the Devil and V/H/S/2 as of late. While his contribution to the latter wasn’t exactly the standout of the bunch (not enough demon births), it was a solid 15 minutes and a fitting precursor to what he brings to You’re Next.

Now, if there’s anything I’ve learned from The Cabin in the Woods and all the folks that I recommended it to last year, it’s that horror comedies aren’t for everyone. It makes me sad, but I get it. Sometimes, when all you want to do is have the crap scared out of you and into your knickers, running gags from start to end can really kill the mood. Even at its best, it can be a hard balance to strike and an even harder one to sell. So if there’s anything I can say to dissuade you bloodthirsty boys and girls from writing this off as a sheep in wolf’s clothing, it’s that You’re Next is a horror movie, no doubt about it.

As I already mentioned and likely didn’t need to, a lot of people bite it in this movie. Oh it’s gnarly alright, but not just because of how these siblings get offed (though that’s certainly a key factor). Usually in situations like these, the people that die are horny-ass teens too stupid to live. The kicker here is that everyone’s family, so when one of their crew dies, it makes for one hell of a ripple effect.

Pretty ballsy move to go down this road, but that’s why the humor works as well as it does. Trust me, watching this family break down as their sibling/child/significant other bleeds out in the foyer is no laughing matter. It’s some pretty heavy shit. It’s not like Wingard cues up the Benny Hill song every time someone gets an ax to the noggin, but if the laughs weren’t there to lighten the mood, this would be a pretty depressing affair. Rest assured, it’s still quite suspenseful and it’s certainly quite brutal. The laughs aren’t here to screw that up, but they sure work wonders to keep the mellows from harshing.

Speaking of dead relatives, another big bonus is that these characters aren’t stupid. The reasons they keep on dying an’t because they always go into That Room when they really shouldn’t go into That Room. Death becomes them because they’re either in panic mode (an understandable reaction) or the bad guys are one step ahead of them. Not only does this make their demises that much more of a bummer, but it saves my eyes having to roll back into my brain. Rough as it may be, using family members as sitting ducks is a surprisingly effective way to make minor characters matter.

But that’s not even the best part. The best part is the one character here who isn’t a sitting duck.

See that ax-toting Australian badass down there? That’s Erin, and someone ought to give Wingard a high-thirty for not making her a dude. Get Sharni Vinson in on that action for playing her, too. She’s cool under pressure, she’s got skills to the kill the Bills (just go with it) and, best of all, she doesn’t need some douchebag guy to protect her. It’s the first time since maybe Scream that I’ve seen a woman beat the marrow out of her would-be killer like this, which is both phenomenal and disappointing. Man, I am such a sucker for strong, confident, smart women in any walk of life, and film is a world that could always use more.

As for the aforementioned would-be killers, how great are those get-ups? Those things speak for themselves. Love it.

You’re Next is just a really fun movie to play along with. It was fun to keep guessing who was masterminding it all, to jump and laugh at all the same parts with everyone else in the theater. It was a beautiful thing, really, which is something given how gory it tends to be.

If you’re the kind of person who sleeps with one eye open and a gun under your pillow, then I imagine You’re Next will be the scariest goddamn thing you’ve ever seen. If you’re more in the market for big scares and cheap thrills, you might be better off with something like The Conjuring. Not that you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, it did make me yell “JESUS!” once. But the reason my wife and I had such freaking blast with this movie isn’t because of all the times that it goosed us. You’re Next is a blast because I was plugging my ears from one scene to the next, because I didn’t have to yell at the people on the screen, because I was quoting it and chuckling on the whole drive home.

It’s a new-school take on old-school horror that does a lot of things well and isn’t frustrating in the slightest. May not sound like much, but believe you me, it’s one of the best horror movies I’ll see all year.

Hell of a time.

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31 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2013 12:51 am

    For me, this film was a really pleasant surprise. A fresh, funny take on home invasion with a ridiculously badass heroine. Excellent review!

    • September 13, 2013 9:00 am

      Thanks and glad you agree! Really, what’s not to love about a badass heroine?

  2. September 13, 2013 1:55 am

    I really cannot waste my time on crap like this….

    • September 13, 2013 8:59 am

      BAhahahahaha. Man knows what he likes. Nothing wrong with that.

  3. September 13, 2013 2:17 am

    Doesn’t seem very alluring…

    • September 13, 2013 8:58 am

      Haha. Didn’t seem like much to me either when I first heard about it, but if you’re into horror movies, I’d be surprised if this didn’t do it for ya. Check it out when it goes to video, you might be surprised.

      • September 13, 2013 3:50 pm

        Ooohh… I can watch it on a Saturday night when I’m bored to do anything but lie on the couch 🙂

      • September 13, 2013 3:56 pm

        Hahaha. Perfect occasion for it!

      • September 13, 2013 4:00 pm

        Although, I would still be watching this space for an unexplored romantic movie secretly hoping you maybe into romantics and chic – flicks 😛

  4. September 13, 2013 3:28 am

    Great review. I am a fan of this too. Maybe didn’t like it quite as much as you, but definitely one of my favourite horror films of the year.

    • September 13, 2013 8:57 am

      Thanks, man! Still need to see The Conjuring, but I’m with you, it’s my horror movie to beat this year.

      “Do you do any commercial work? I think they’re just the height of the art form.”

      • September 18, 2013 8:37 am

        Haha. That was such a brilliant line. I am with you in the club of those who sadly missed The Conjuring.

  5. theipc permalink
    September 13, 2013 9:32 am

    One of my favorite movies of the year – nice work!

  6. Allison Frederick permalink
    September 13, 2013 11:10 am

    Love your reviews. I had indeed, blown this one off. Thanks for the tip!

    • September 13, 2013 11:17 am

      Thanks so much and you’re very welcome! Hope you check it out and hope I don’t steer you wrong! Would love to hear your thoughts if you ever give it a go.

  7. September 13, 2013 5:03 pm

    I’ve been reading a lot of positive reviews about this movie lately. Should I see this or Insidious 2?

    • September 13, 2013 8:19 pm

      From what I’m hearing about Insidious 2, SEE THIS. You won’t regret it, man. Let me know what you think!

      • September 13, 2013 9:25 pm

        Thanks for the recommendation :]. I’ll check it out and let you know what I think.

  8. September 30, 2013 11:09 am

    I saw the trailer for this and wrote it off as nothing special, but your review changed my mind. It actually sounds unique and interesting, especially the tough female lead. You can rarely go wrong with badass chicks beating up murderers.

    • October 2, 2013 1:15 pm

      Hell to the yeah, yo. The world can always use more heroines like Erin in it. Definitely check it out, there’s a whole lot to like, especially for such a ho-hum premise that we’ve all seen before. Let me know if you give it a go, would love to hear your thoughts!

  9. October 23, 2013 9:32 am

    I think there is a lot here to dig into. Some of the best horror has always been about the deterioration of the family, and this looks like a nice addition to that tradition.

    I am also intrigued to see how humor works in this movie in a nuanced way.

    Thanks for the review!

    • October 28, 2013 3:05 pm

      You’re welcome! And yeah, there’s a lot of familial deterioration going on here. Really good stuff, some of the most fun I’ve had at the theater all year and a really welcome addition to the genre. Give it a go and keep me posted, you won’t be disappointed.

  10. Tom permalink
    December 7, 2013 9:36 pm

    Solid work. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I. And fully agreed about the choice of the survivor (uh-oh, spoiler!!) being female and not having to rely on quote-unquote douche-bag guys for once.

  11. December 23, 2013 5:48 pm

    Nice review. I’m not really the horror loving type, but I am looking forward to watching this one.

  12. January 22, 2014 2:59 pm

    I really wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to watch this movie or not until now. Although I love a good horror movie, I’ve felt largely let down by most of the ones I’ve seen lately. Great review though, check out my reviews of movies, books, games and tv shows at http://printplayparticipate.wordpress.com/ 🙂

  13. Aimée V. permalink
    May 6, 2014 11:39 am

    Your sentence about «not going into That Room» made me think about this short, I wonder if you saw it? 😉

  14. dangeruss80 permalink
    August 8, 2014 4:41 pm

    I love this movie!

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