Review: You’re Next (2013)

You’re Next is a smart, well-made, brutal night of gruesome enjoyment.

If you are willing to look behind the mountains of remakes, prequels and sequels, horror is still carving up and serving some smarts. To that end here is You’re Next, the new horror film from Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, Tape 56 in V/H/S). Coming in off some early acclaim, initially you are taken aback by quite a standard set-up but the more you watch the gorier, twistier and more enjoyable it gets. There are clearly many comparisons here to be made, from Saw to The Strangers to, oddly enough, Home Alone. The most obvious comparison may be Wes Craven’s Scream, in terms of tone, although there are tense chills here befitting a full-blooded horror film. You’re Next is undoubtedly some of the most gruesome fun horror fans will have this year.

Some will undoubtedly be thrown by the advertising (which suggested a straight home invasion flick), as the overall film is lathered with some great dark comedy. However, all the elements bleed wonderfully into each other, leaving a film that is at times very clever and at others all-out splatter. Wingard runs the risk of slipping into the generic (and occasionally his film does) but there is at least one shocking turn and consistent rackets of tension and violent energy.

The most refreshing aspect is Sharni Vinson’s performance as Erin. Initially so sweet, it is almost gobsmacking to see her development. Seeing a film with such a strong horror heroine turns the final girl theory on its head once again in even bloodier fashion. Vinson is a fantastic core to the film and a noticeable distance from the surrounding characters. The family are believable but that does mean that some irritate (particularly Joe Swanberg as Drake Davison). Luckily, as things get nastier, it brings people together and rounds the audience behind them. Well in a sense.

You’re Next treats audiences with respect; Wingard knows what you will expect from certain visual cues and at times delivers on it and at others toys with it. Watching this film as a fan is perhaps more fun than watching as a general viewer. The film is littered with cameos (The Innkeepers director Ti West turns up) and audiences that are following independent horror may have found their film of the year. Equipped with retro 80s synth scoring and inspired brutality (that food mixer scene!) this is certainly horrific. There are a few strong scares and jumps but mostly for those ready for it, this is a great mix of funny and violent thrills. People who are avid fans of films like Cabin in the Woods and Scream may be familiar with moments of the narrative structure but this is a ferociously enjoyable ride. You’re Next seems to have initial stutters of expectedness but once you get past a certain point, earlier things don’t seem quite as odd.

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