Evil Dead retains its crown as 2013’s bloodiest film, but You’re Next is something Evil Dead is not; it is a quality horror film. You’re Next arrives with plenty of blood splatter for the gore fans and a kitchen full of sharp objects with which to maim a human body. It also has a script full of originality and wit packaged within the old standbys of an isolated house of horrors with cast members dropping one by one.
Celebrating their 35th anniversary, Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) head out to the sticks to their second, and extremely isolated, home. Their four kids show up one by one with their significant others and soon we have a house full of folks, mostly related, already grating on each other’s nerves. The opening dinner is so full of tension and unspoken hostilities that when the first crossbow arrow flies through the dining room window we are more than ready for most of this family to bite the dust.
Who are the attackers? They do not speak, they do not hesitate, and they wear animal masks. What makes You’re Next so effective as an indie addition to the home invasion genre is not the brutality of the sequential murders, but one character’s reaction to them. Erin (Sharni Vinson) is the Australian girlfriend of one of the sons, college professor Crispian (AJ Bowen). Instead of screaming and cowering after the attacks begin, she emerges as the most resourceful asset in the house.
The reasons behind her skillful dodges and counterattacks are quite silly when explained, but it does not lessen the audience’s enjoyment as she consistently foils the masked attackers and saves her own skin. Just as the menacing bad guys are adept with crossbows, machetes, and axes, Erin holds her own with nails, a chicken masher, and even a blender. Writer Simon Barrett’s (V/H/S, 2012) imagination was working on overdrive as dreamed up unique situation after situation to keep the relentless body count from boring and/or numbing the audience.
Director Adam Wingard opens You’re Next with a bang, takes the time to introduce our extended cast, and then mercifully launches in with the bloodbath before the audience gets a chance to check their watch. Populating the cast with other indie filmmakers is a tongue in cheek move by Wingard. An early casualty to open the film is horror director Larry Fessenden, Crispian’s jackass older brother, Drake, is played by director Joe Swanberg, and director Ti West plays Tariq, the significant other to the family’s only daughter, Amy (Amy Seimetz). Recognize the name Amy Seimetz? She took the indie world by storm this year making a name for herself in Upstream Color.
You’re Next scores in part because it’s not another remake or sequel which have bombarded movie screens lately, it’s not ghosts or spirits causing the mayhem, and the writer really took the time to think it through. Even though heads and limbs fly across the room now and again, there is some laughter involved and an unforgettable scene with a girl attempting to initiate a sensual moment with her boyfriend while there is a noticeable brutally murdered relative sharing the same bed. Go ahead, enjoy yourself; You’re Next will give you a lot to talk about at the water cooler tomorrow.
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Starring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Margaret Laney, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton