Occasionally there’s a horror film that manages to prove there’s still some thrills and surprises left in the genre. “You’re Next” is like an awesome grab bag of the best horror films from the past 30 years packed into a fun and exhilarating horror thriller.
It’s been years since the Davison family have all been under one roof, but for their parents’ (Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton) wedding anniversary, their four children put their differences aside to help them celebrate.
Crispian (AJ Bowen) is preparing his girlfriend, Erin (Sharni Vinson), for what he imagines will be a miserable visit, but beyond his annoying brother, Drake (Joe Swanberg), and moody younger brother Felix (Nicholas Tucci), it’s going better than expected — until a gang wearing animal masks wielding axes and crossbows decide to crash the party. The masked psychos are enough, but Director Adam Wingard quickly puts you on edge with unpredictable attacks and several jump in your seat moments.
Screenwriter Simon Barrett (V/H/S) devotes just enough time early on to establish the Davison family dynamics and how they relate to one another making the deaths matter more than some random goofy teenager.
Barrett keeps the “obnoxiously stupid horror movie character” decisions to a minimum and for the most part, the characters behave — for better or worse — like most people would when their home is being invaded.
In a great twist to the format, Erin is hardly the meek plucky heroine sitting back waiting to be rescued. Instead, she shows the invaders they’ve messed with the wrong house guest. There’s a twist as to why Erin knows how to handle herself in this unusual situation and it’s so clever it’s amazing it hasn’t been done before. Either way it’s a blast watching a character flat out refuse to be the victim in a horror movie and goes on the offensive.
Wingard shows decent restraint with the gore. There are some violent moments as you’d expect, but it never ventures into ridiculous gore just for the sake of being able to be explicit. The invaders’ murders are done in a familiar psychotic and mysterious fashion, but when Erin turns the tables, Wingard is a bit more playful since he knows the audience will be rooting for her to take these sickos out.
Acting isn’t essential for this style of horror thriller, but it’s better than the norm. Vinson has a nice screen presence and may have a solid future as the next big Scream Queen. Wendy Glenn, who plays Felix’s goth girlfriend, Zee, also makes a strong impression as a rising star awaiting her big break.
There’s a fun throwback feel to the film from the isolated house in the woods, the masked villains and a fantastic old school score by Mads Heldtberg, Jasper Lee and Kyle McKinnon that recalls 80s synthesizers in all their glory.
With a fast-paced 95 min. run time, once the action gets started, it doesn’t let up. “You’re Next” is a welcome departure from the familiar horror thriller genre with nice twists, crazy death scenes and killer protagonist.
Rating: 8 out of 10
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