The home invasion movie has been a staple of the horror genre for a long time. In fact, it probably stretches further back than any of us can imagine (I think back to the original version of The Desperate Hours). With You’re Next, director Adam Wingard, with a script from his main collaborator Simon Barrett, takes the standard home invasion and throws enough twists and turns and black humour into the mix to make it feel surprisingly fresh. And, hey, the kills are impressive too.
AJ Bowen plays Crispian, a young man who is heading to the home of his parents (Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton) with his lovely partner (Erin, played by Sharni Vinson) for a family meal. As everyone gets together, sibling rivalries soon start to flare up and the pleasure of the company is tempered by the bitter undercurrent. The meal is well and truly ruined, however, when a crossbow bolt is fired through a window and kills someone. It’s panic stations for everyone as they realise that they are trapped in a house by people who want them dead, but Erin soon shows that she has some steely resolve the others lack. Just who will die, how it will happen and why they have been chosen as victims? Half of the fun lies in answering these questions as the movie moves up to a speed that it impressively maintains right up until the end credits roll.
Adam Wingard has a lot of fans, but he has just as many detractors. His hand-held, shaky-cam shooting technique may keep costs down and give him an aesthetic that he likes to work with but it doesn’t win over all viewers. I liked A Horrible Way To Die, I liked V/H/S and I REALLY liked Wingard’s segment in the uneven The ABC’s Of Death. The guy is definitely someone I enjoy seeing work from, and he obviously has a great work relationship with Barrett.
You’re Next is the pinnacle of their working relationship, thus far, and certainly allows Barrett to have more fun than he’s previously been able to have with characters and dialogue. Everything comes together perfectly, from the cast to the brilliant soundtrack to the death scenes to the rich vein of humour wevaing through every scene.
Speaking of the cast, I have to say how amazed I was to see Barbara Crampton still looking as youthful and gorgeous as ever. But when I’d stopped my heart fluttering every time one of my BIG horror crushes was onscreen I was able to thoroughly enjoy almost everyone in the movie. Vinson makes for a particularly enjoyable lead, one of the first horror heroines that I can think of in some time who genuinely fights back all on her own (even Laurie Strode had Doc Loomis, Sidney Prescott always had a “Scooby gang” around her, etc, etc.), and Bowen is as solid as he always is. Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Joe Swanberg, Margaret Laney, Amy Seimetz and Rob Moran all give great performances, however much screentime they have, and Larry Fessenden and Ti West have a couple of great cameos.
The only reason I don’t rate You’re Next any higher than I have is, surprisingly, due to the fact that I sensed how things were going to turn out early on in the film. Of course, I didn’t know every exact twist and turn, but the film has fun utilising the cliches and allowing the audience to anticipate what’s just ahead. That does, in a way, add to the overall entertainment factor, but it also spoils things ever so slightly if you’re sitting through certain scenes just waiting for the punchline to something set up in previous scenes.
Regardless of my very minor criticism of the film, You’re Next is the kind of original, entertaining horror that deserves your money at the cinema. Go and see it. Now. You won’t be disappointed.*
DIRECTOR: ADAM WINGARD
WRITER: SIMON BARRETT
STARS: SHARNI VINSON, AJ BOWEN, ROB MORAN, BARBARA CRAMPTON, NICHOLAS TUCCI, WENDY GLENN, JOE SWANBERG, MARGARET LANEY, AMY SEIMETZ, TI WEST, LARRY FESSENDEN
RUNTIME: 94 MINS APPROX
*Flickfeast does not guarantee against disappointment, and the above statement by Kevin Matthews is in no way legally binding.