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Movie Recap/Review: “You’re Next”

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  • Release Date: 8/23/2013
  • Running Time: 94 minutes
  • Written By: Simon Barrett
  • Directed By: Adam Wingard
  • Starring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Sarah Myers, Amy Seimetz, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton, L.C. Holt, Simon Barrett, Lane Hughes
  • Edited By: Adam Wingard
  • Distributed By: Lionsgate

Movie Recap/Review: “You’re Next”

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The home invasion subset of horror has been mined for screams, laughs, and terror for forever, but every so often a movie comes along to breathe new life into the genre, and YOU’RE NEXT does exactly that. YOU’RE NEXT is startling, bloody, funny, and terrifying. There’s nothing scarier than someone breaking into your home — your fortress of solitude, your safety net — especially when it’s random and you don’t know why your life is ruined or why your wife has a machete buried in her neck. This is magnified exponentially when said house is in some random woods in Missouri, and law enforcement is a ways away. You’ve seen all of this before, certainly, but YOU’RE NEXT packs enough new weapons, villains, characters, and a sense of humor to win you over.

It’s Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey’s (RE-ANIMATOR’s Barbara Crampton) 35th wedding anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than having all your grown up children come to town, along with their significant others? Answer: Everything else.

I knew YOU’RE NEXT was going to be a gem early in the film, thanks to an ordinarily cliche moment, when Paul and Aubrey arrive at their creaky, old manor. Aubrey thinks that someone is in the house and hears a commotion upstairs. Almost immediately afterwards, her husband asks her an innocent question. But Adam Wingard (editor and director, V/H/S) and company use sound brilliantly, jacking up the noise and making it impossible not to jump, even when you know it’s coming. It’s so loud and jarring, and a simple gimmick at that, but undeniably effective. Music and sound have always been inextricably linked to great horror films, in many ways they are just as important as any of the characters (aka: soon to be dead bodies) in the narrative. YOU’RE NEXT continues the tradition, with a fantastic soundtrack that features moments in the score reminiscent of John Carpenter during the climax.

Two by two, Paul and Aubrey’s kids and their boyfriends/girlfriends/ fiancees/wives/what have you arrive on scene, with tension thick in the air. Aside from loving their parents, these kids hate each other, or at the very least, don’t see each other often. So it’s one of those gatherings. AJ Bowen’s pudgy thespian Crispian arrives first, with his beautiful girlfriend (and former student) Erin (Sharni Vinson) in tow. It’s the first time she’s going to meet the family, and of course, also her last. The next morning the oldest brother, Drake (actor-writer-director Joe Swanberg), who’s just the biggest prick on the planet, arrives with his prissy wife Kelly (Margaret Laney). Aimee (Amy Seimetz) and quiet/hipster/director/boyfriend Tariq (THE INNKEEPERS director Ti West) are joined by Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and goth girlfriend Zee (Wendy Glenn). It’s a glorious mish mash of characters reminiscent of many a horror movie, and they’re at each other’s throats within minutes at the dinner table (not literally… at first). They don’t even stop arguing when Tariq’s head is impaled by an arrow from a crossbow, a unique, scary, and deadly weapon of choice used by one of three creepy animal-mask-wearing invaders, who arrive on scene to kill them all.

For its entirety, there’s no time to rest in YOU’RE NEXT and yes, the film features many of the same recycled plots, story elements, and character archetypes you’ve seen before, but the dialogue is unique and the situations play out differently than you’d expect (for the most part). It’s clear that someone we know is behind this attack, and while you might catch one or two twists, there are always a few more coming. There’s also a bevy of classic cheesy horror one liners littered throughout the film, including some that will determine whether it’s your type of movie or not, including this indelible treasure: “F#$! me next to your dead Mom.”

Sharni Vinson owns this movie. The Australian actress plays Erin, Crispian’s girlfriend, and lays down a star making performance. She kills it, quite literally. Many of the characters act so ridiculously and make such mindbogglingly bad decisions to the point of hilarity (at one point Paul lets his daughter run out the front door to make a run for it, because she’s the fastest of his children… and it takes about 6 seconds for that to be regrettable). All the while, however, Erin is level headed, quick on her feet, and making the kind of gutsy, smart, awesome decisions you’ve always wanted characters in horror movies to make. In many ways, she saves the movie, because the home invasion begins to get TOO bloody, too evil, too much in excess (alert the department of redundancy department). In fact, it gets hard to stomach, hard to root for it or enjoy it, since it appears there’s no end in sight for these poor rich, snobby bastards, and maybe Wingard and Simon Barrett have gone too far. That’s likely precisely what they were going for, when the movie turns in a glorious fashion.

Erin becomes some sort of sexy female version of Ash (EVIL DEAD), wielding a meat tenderizer and a blender rather than a chainsaw or boomstick, or a more deadly Macaulay Culkin from HOME ALONE. She’s definitely one of the more powerful, badass women in a horror movie I’ve ever seen. She isn’t lucky to be surviving, she isn’t waiting for her man, she is the reason this devastating home invasion goes south, and her legend only grows as the movie kicks and screams along. In a sea of bloody, exploitative, and derivative slasher and home invasion films, YOU’RE NEXT manages to stand out.

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