You're Next Review
By Bill Gordon
"You’ve gone back in time to an 80’s slasher, apart from this time… the female lead kicks ass"
Many people will look at the trailer for ‘You’re Next’ and see a clichéd and recycled home invasion horror, and many people will pass on it. You will probably get people going in expecting some ultra-scary paranoia fuelled home invasion jump-fest, and unfortunately they will be disappointed. Adam Wingard’s (A Horrible Way to Die, V/H/S 1&2) latest entry is clear proof that sometimes things aren’t what they seem. What is disguised as an unoriginal concept is actually an intensely thrilling, funny and surprising 90minutes.
The Davison family all reunite at their family home in the middle of nowhere, bringing their partners, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of parents, Aubrey (Barbara Crampton - Re-Animator, From Beyond) and Paul (Rob Moran). Unfortunately their dinner plans are ruined when they come under attack by a gang of mysterious killers in animals masks. Unfortunately for these killers, one of the guests isn’t going to sit around and do nothing, harbouring secret skills.
After a bloody opening which you can expect from most home invasion horrors, we see the parent’s arrival at their huge family home, surrounded by wilderness. It practically screams “INVADE MY HOME”. While prepping the house for the guests Aubrey here’s footsteps from upstairs. What you expect from most horror films is for the character to hear the noise, reassure themselves that it’s probably nothing and carry on with what they’re doing. But ‘You’re Next’ isn’t your average horror. Instead, Aubrey immediately informs Paul, saying that “there is someone in the house” and that they should “leave now”. It all makes so much sense. While Paul goes to look for the source of the noise they are interrupted by the arrival of their son, Crispian (AJ Bowen – A Horrible Way to Die, The House of The Devil) and his girlfriend, Erin (Sharni Vinson – Home and Away, Bait). The common sense you witness from Aubrey is sheer proof that ‘You’re Next’ is a bit more of a realistic approach to what we still assume is an unoriginal concept. Once the rest of the family and their partners arrive, we are gifted with some hilarious sibling rivalry, which flows nicely and feels genuine. Despite them being “mature” adults, the arguments still overflow into the moment when they’re all under attack; with each sibling arguing over who can run the fastest in a child-like manner, which supplies many laughs for the audience, followed shortly by some shocks which you see coming yet still leaves audience members with their hands placed over their mouths in surprise.
What ‘You’re Next’ succeeds in is keeping the mystery flowing. From the beginning of the film you know there is more behind it, and you’re left thinking throughout, once you think you’re on to something they throw it out the window. While you’re going all Sherlock Holmes on the characters, figuring out the truth behind all the events, Adam Wingard throws the story on its side, with a role reversal; the hunters becoming the hunted, making it feel a lot like a slasher film in reverse, with elements of ‘Home Alone’. Eventually, the film comes to a small halt, and you think your questions are answered. For a split second it seems as if they got lazy with the script, until you realise that the full answer to the question isn’t there, providing us with more questions. We are greeted with more chuckles as these intruders start to realise they may have met their match; answering the question many probably ask themselves: what if one of those killers in a horror movie actually picked the wrong victim to mess with? It’s refreshing seeing a female lead that isn’t screaming helplessly. Instead, she uses logic and reacts to the events in an intelligent manner, never making a stupid decision, resulting in a lack of audience members shouting something along the lines of “DON’T GO IN THERE!”
Although ‘You’re Next’ isn’t exactly scary, there are some nice uses of cinematography, whether it’s blurring out the scenery behind the character helping build the tension and paranoia as to whether they are alone or not, a character meeting their gruesome end, seen only in glimpses through the flashing of a camera or seeing the reflection of an animal mask neatly displayed on a window as they watch, the victim unaware of their presence. During the final act, the majority of the scenes are overlapped with a retro-techno 80’s soundtrack, making it feel a lot like you’ve gone back in time to an 80’s slasher, apart from this time… the female lead kicks ass.
Eventually everything is laid out in front of you. It is full of surprises you didn’t see coming, with an inevitable and realistic finale, provided with just a few more laughs to settle the audience down after a harrowing and intense final stand. The best way to experience ‘You’re Next’ is to go in completely blind and open minded. I had not watched any of the trailers (through choice), I had only seen the posters, and I was pleasantly surprised. There are the usual jump-scares which are enough to keep you clinging on to the edge of your seat but ‘You’re Next’ doesn’t succeed through trying to scare its audience, it succeeds through displaying an effective, enclosed location mystery thriller, with some painfully realistic special effects. If ‘The Strangers’ and ‘Scream’ had a baby, it would resemble ‘You’re Next’; it is surprising, full of twist and turns, darkly funny, gripping and intelligent. This isn’t your average home invasion horror, it is so much more and what a treat it is.
You're Next will be released in cinemas across the UK from the 28th of August 2013.
Follow Bill on Twitter: @2FlashGordon7