Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, A.J. Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Barbara Crampton, Rob Moran, Ti West, Simon Barrett, L.C. Holt, Lane Hughes
This one’s a little late but that’s okay…let’s talk about You’re Next.
This Renegade Reviewer heard a lot of buzz about this indie horror take on the home invasion slasher that comes to us courtesy of director/editor Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett. A lot of good things were said after it’s premier at the Toronto International Film Festival where it premiered in…2011?!?!? I’ll be the first to admit that some of that hype was/is unwarranted, but why the hell did this perfectly fine slasher/murder mystery sit on the shelf for over 2 years before being released in the States? C’mon, Lionsgate. A little faster on the draw next time, please.
At any rate, I’m not going to rehash the entire plot for you here…that’s not what a review should do, and if you want a synopsis, you can Wiki it. I will give you the general gist of the proceedings, though. The Davison family reunion, constituted of bickering siblings and their significant others taking place in a somewhat secluded countryside mansion, goes awry when a mysterious group of homicidal mask wearers crash the party with bloody means. Yes, there’s a twist (two, kinda…well, more like one and a half) and familiar beats are evident throughout the film’s 91 minute running time. Does that mean it’s a bad horror movie?
No. In fact, I can be honest and say that based on promotional materials featuring those animal masks, I was expecting to be scared and/or feeling some tension going into today’s matinee. However, one the first sequence plays out (a prologue, if you will) most seasoned horror vets will realize that there’s nothing to fear in You’re Next. I’ll get some flack for this from some circles, but The Conjuring — one of my favorite films of the summer — was way scarier. But once aficionados know this, they can certainly sit back and enjoy the kinetic mayhem of a perfectly acceptably executed slasher. And while said twists may be somewhat telegraphed, they are still enjoyable.
The real gem of You’re Next is the cast. Their interactions are fantastic, especially before all hell breaks loose. In fact, I’d wager I’d get more than a few nods from readers when I say that the acting is actually more believable during the running time leading up to and including the dinner scene. Watching sibling rivalries play out among a cool cast like this manages to pull the viewer into the story more than other cheesy facsimiles would have been able to. Some reviews I’ve read have said that it takes a little too long for the festivities to begin, but I disagree; I would’ve happily spent another half hour with these people for the sake of their character development and my continued enjoyment. For that, all involved should be given some major kudos. It just seems like they all had a blast on set, and that joyous enthusiasm elevates You’re Next above other bloody copycat thrillers.
A lot of praise has been heaped upon Sharni Vinson’s performance as Erin, the gal who knows just a little too much about survival tactics. And deservedly so; she is completely awesome in her role, the brightest of shining stars in a pretty great ensemble cast. A.J. Bowen, who plays one of the Davison sons and is Erin’s significant other, deserves some recognition as well because of his conviction in the smaller but crucial role he is given. A great turn by this duo in a film full of good to great, fun and darkly funny performances.
The bottom line is this: is You’re Next worth your time and dollars)? If you’re a fan of horror, your mileage may vary. It’s either going to be fun for you to see something like this — not completely original but not a rehash or remake either. To the uninitiated, this is akin to a primer to the slasher/home invasion (plus a twist of murder mystery) genre. Either way, it could be a lot worse. Do what I did: catch an early showing, throw some money towards a perfectly entertaining horror film, and sleep easy knowing your dollars might support an even stronger followup (but not, necessarily, a sequel).