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Movie Review: You’re Next

Director: Adam Wingard

Stars: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg

What do you get when you take a wealthy family in an isolated manse, psychotic killers in animal masks, and death traps that are only rivaled by Kevin McAllister’s exploits in Home Alone?  You get one bad-ass slasher film!

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You’re Next

You’re Next follows Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) Davison as they travel to their gigantic manse in the woods to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.  No celebration would be complete without their four adult children:  Inappropriate professor, Crispian (AJ Bowen), obnoxious jerk, Drake (Joe Swanberg), enthusiastic and impractical sister, Aimee (Amy Seimetz), and of course, the tech-savvy baby of the family, Felix (Nicholas Tucci).

As the children arrive with their plus ones in tow, you come to realize how dysfunctional the family really is.  Crispian and Drake constantly compete and try to one-up each other, everyone thinks Aubrey is nuts, and everyone seems to ignore young Felix.  With all the bickering and vying for attention, you don’t particularly like any of the characters… save one: Crispian’s former-student-turned-girlfriend, Erin (Sharni Vinson).  She is the only one that hasn’t been sucked into the chaos of the Davison family and thus, remains a simple girl trying to impress her boyfriend’s family.

As the family sits down for dinner, chaos ensues as arrows begin flying and it quickly becomes apparent that someone is out for blood.  One by one, the masked-murderers make their presence known by creating increasingly gore-tastic ways for the Davison family members to make their final exit.  All hell breaks loose when Erin shows she’s more than what she seems and leads the Davison family in a counterattack, complete with make-shift weapons, bloody traps, and gruesome combat.

Now, slasher films involving home invasion are not rare (in fact, The Purge also came out this year).  You’re Next does create the same tension-filled moments that these other films do, but it adds a heavy dose of dark humor to the mix.  Despite all the chaos and killing, the Davison Family is still at odds with each other.  Whether they’re deciding how to call for help or how to remove an arrow from someone’s back, the conflicting personalities surface and create some of the more memorable moments in the film.  I doubt I could find it in me to criticize my brother’s weight with an arrow lodged in my shoulder…

Once the humor subsides, the gory deaths take center stage, and boy, are they plentiful!  With so many characters, there is plenty of invention with the ways they meet their demise.  You’re Next goes all out with the gore, making the deaths as violent as the characters are dysfunctional.  Sure, it becomes over-the-top at times, but that is part of the charm of the film.  Once the deaths start piling up to the rafters, you simply anticipate the next one.

What stood out to me as well was Vinson’s character, Erin.  There have been a long line of strong female leads in film (Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley comes to mind), but they are few and far between in the horror genre, especially when it comes to slasher films.  Often, the female characters are left to make stupid decisions, scream and die a horrible death (and You’re Next certainly has a few of those) but it allows Erin to really shine in her role.  She’s resourceful, intelligent, and often bad-ass when it comes to stopping the masked killers.  She also is vulnerable and emotional, preventing her from simply being an unstoppable force (a la Jason Bourne) and becoming a truly believable character in the face of terror.

I love horror movies.  I saw The Purge and was left feeling a little disappointed.  This film, however, upped the ante on what a good slasher film looks like.  It is darkly funny, gleefully gory, and incredibly entertaining.  You will be engaged the entire movie and eagerly anticipating the next horrific murder.

My Review Score: 7.5/10