Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen
Straw foxes, tagers and lambs
Home invasion. Some people love the sub-genre and some people hate it. Personally, I love it! Possibly my favourite ever horror film, Inside, is built around a home invasion premise. It’s full of thought-provoking ideas about what you would do in the situation, because it could well happen to you (you’re next right?) they also tend to be full of emotion, tension and thrills which is something I can’t get enough of. I’ve been excited for You’re Next ever since I heard about it a couple of years ago. I saw a picture of someone in an animal mask holding an axe and I was sold! I then read a glowing review which made me even more excited. All I had to do was await its release, which seemed like a long time. For some reason studios like to shelve amazing horror films like You’re Next and The Cabin in the Woods which makes little sense when rubbish like Paranormal 8 seem to be churned out constantly!
So you can imagine my excitement when the film was finally released and I was actually sitting in that cinema chair, hoping to see something really extraordinary. Did You’re Next disappoint? No it did not. For some reason people keep going on about how You’re Next is a rip-off of The Strangers. Little do they know that The Strangers is actually a rip-off of a much better little known French film called, Them (Ils) and the idea of home invasion was most widely explored in 1971 with Straw Dogs. Don’t get me wrong, I like The Strangers. It actually scared me when I watched it on my own in the dark, which something I rarely experience. However, the film is quite slow and doesn’t particularly have a large replay value. There are much better examples of home invasion in Inside, Funny Games and the underrated remake of Mother’s Day. You’re Next is also an example of one of the best home invasion movies.
You’re Next begins with an effective, if predictable opening where the neighbours fall under attack from the animal-masked clan. It’s a good opener and I loved the use of music with the song, Could this Be the Magic, which is also used to great effect later on. We then get a nice introduction of all our lambs who are about to enter the killing floor. Main focus is given to Erin and her boyfriend, however we do get some nice character building on the others too. It was actually really nice to get some characters for a change. Most slasher films use characters who all look and talk the same, making it hard to identify who just got their head knocked off with an axe. However, here I could identify people, making it easy and fun to follow. Although most of the characters aren’t all that likable apart from Erin, but more on her later.
Thankfully, the action begins quite early on during a lovely dinner table argument. It’s the perfect way to begin really as most slasher films use the stalk-and-slash tactic which means one character walks off from the group, gets killed and the rest of the group think, “where did he go?” Which becomes quite dull and monotonous. Here, all the characters are together and all of them know that they are in danger. It’s thick, fast and chaotic as the camera shakes and cuts manically, which actually works quite well here as it really shows how chaotic the situation is (don’t worry shaky cam haters, shaky cam doesn’t make a noticeable return). I must point out that there is some bad acting at this point, which I’m not sure is intentional or not, because it was quite funny seeing such hysterical acting.
Some people might be quite worried at this point. Shaky cam, bad acting, unoriginal premise… But please don’t worry yourselves, because it’s about to get very interesting indeed. I was actually enjoying the film right from the start, so I was very pleased to see the film getting better and better as it progressed. You’re Next’s greatest strength lies in the pacing. There is not one dull moment. The film miraculously manages to maintain a sense of thrill and tension throughout. The pace is relentless, possibly even more so than the Evil Dead remake (which I liked a lot) with gratuitous and gracious violence caressing the screen throughout. Gore-lovers might be a bit disappointed as there are only one or two really gruesome kills, however you’ll be glad to hear that there are a lot of kills. It’s outrageous fun throughout.
You’re Next also creates one of the best horror heroines in Erin. She’s a female Rambo who was brought up on a survivalist camp and knows exactly how to survive. Sometimes in films like these, there can be a lot of stupid decisions being made. However, there are none to be made here with Erin around. She’s a sassy hero which makes You’re Next even more intelligent than it needed to be. Seeing her get revenge on the attackers is amazing fun to watch and it’s exactly what you want to happen too! What makes You’re Next super special is the little things. You can tell it has been made with love by people who love the genre. The animal masks are amazing and there are some really great set-pieces such as the flashing camera and the scene where the woman runs to the neighbours house. You’re Next is full to the brim of exciting moments making it have a fantastic replay value.
I didn’t want You’re Next to end. It’s an incredible offering to the home invasion horror genre, and shows the right way to do horror. II actually think it deserves more love than it gets as it’s not often that a horror film comes along that really knows its audience and how to please them. Also, if your worried about the comedy elements, there is no need to. I was a little worried that they’d spoil the tension, but it’s very dark humour that just adds to the film as a whole. I loved the surprising twists and turns it took (although I am proud to say that I speculated the twist quite early on) and the fun mayhem it produced throughout its running time. I also loved the 80’s synth soundtrack and the wonderful use of “Looking for the Magic”. You’re Next is horror done right. It’s intelligent with great characters and filled with fun, thrills and tension. For me it’s the best horror film of 2013.