Written by: Simon Barrett
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Family first. That could very well be the tagline for Adam Wingard’s latest slasher film, You’re Next. It isn’t however, and I am therefore absconding with it for my first attempt at writing a horror feature. But hey, that’s neither here nor there.
You’re Next is a gory horror flick that uses family dynamics, a brooding atmosphere, and a darkly warped sense of humor to entertain the audience at all costs. It tells the story of the Davison family who come together for a wedding anniversary weekend getaway and instead wind up being picked off one by one by a mysterious gang of animal mask-clad killers.
- Simple, yet effective – The problem with a lot of horror films nowadays is that they throw a whole bunch of shit at the walls and hope that most of it will stick, and predictably, it doesn’t. What works about You’re Next is that it’s simple. It’s a home invasion flick and the killers’ goal is to kill off each member of the family at all costs. That does not reveal their complete motivation, but I’m not just going to completely spoil the film for you here, although I will discuss…
- Twists and turns – Another issue with a lot of recent horror films is that they often completely depend upon their twists and turns, and most of the time they end up being completely unsatisfying. While You’re Next certainly has its fair share of twists, even shifting halfway through into an entirely different kind of movie, the film doesn’t depend upon them entirely. When a twist is revealed in You’re Next, it’s treated with a sense of realism. Wingard doesn’t beat you over the head with the twists, but rather treats them as if they were the only possible outcome of the given situation. Confidence in your ability to pull something off goes a long way, and Wingard certainly has it.
- Gore galore – It’s interesting in a Summer that has already boasted another critically praised horror film that the next one down the pipeline couldn’t be more different from its predecessor. While The Conjuring prides itself on its ability to scare the audience, You’re Next prides itself on its ability to entertain with a wide array of inventive kills and enough gore to satisfy even the most blood-thirsty fans.
- Bad-ass female heroine – It’s been perhaps since the Scream series that the horror genre has truly had a bad-ass female heroine to call their own. You’re Next finally provides us with another in Erin, played by Australian actress Sharni Vinson. She doesn’t just defend herself from the oncoming attacks, she has a bloodlust all her own and at times proves that she may just be their superior when it comes to inventive violence.
- Failure to fully capitalize on the established family dynamics – When the film first began, I became incredibly excited about the prospect for something distinctly different in the horror genre. It was taking its time and chose to focus on the dynamics between the members of the Davison family, highlighting the conflicts and the grudges they hold against one another in addition to providing the audience with some interesting character development. Unfortunately, once the blood starts to flow much of this is discarded and although through some of the twists some light is shed on the family once again, we are never fully provided an answer to these conflicts that were set-up so wonderfully early on.
- The Hype – There is no doubt in my mind that many horror fans who have been waiting for the release of this film are expecting something entirely original that twists the slasher genre into something we’ve never seen before. Although I will say that it’s certainly a twist on the slasher genre in that its tone is unlike anything I’ve previously seen, it doesn’t turn the genre completely on its head and become something wholly original. I would argue that it doesn’t need to be all that original when it’s this entertaining, but it is a film that doesn’t completely live up to the ‘something wholly original’ hype.
The Summer of 2013 will no doubt be remembered amongst horror fans as the Summer that was conquered by James Wan’s The Conjuring, but for those of the more blood-thirsty variety I’m sure they will be more than pleased to tout You’re Next as a success all its own. The best sequence in the film is one that owes a great amount to Alfred Hitchcock and his film Rear Window and that perhaps perfectly encapsulates the film in a nutshell. You’re Next isn’t entirely original and owes a great deal to those classics that came before it, but it’s an insanely entertaining film that is not only gory, but also has a few twists up its sleeve to ensure that hardcore fans have a bloody good time at the multiplex this Summer.
And oh yeah…*writes in blood on window*…You’re Next!