Written by Joe Langham
Previous Review | Pain and Gain
You’re Next has been one of the most anticipated films for fans of the genre since its premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Having spent two years being taken off and put back on distributor’s shelves, it has finally been released. The wait was well worth it and the film was not ruined either by an abundance of advertising and hype that often plagues films that bide their time waiting for release.
The home invasion horror, like many films these days, is a largely overdone and monotonous genre full of remakes and clichés. With terrible remakes of Funny Games, Black Christmas and The Last House on the Left amongst the many home invasion flicks made in recent years, it would be natural to just write You’re Next off into the same list. However, once in a while a gem comes along, much like 2008’s chilling film ‘The Strangers’ and the French predecessor and Strangers influence ‘Them’. You’re Next is one of these gems.
The film stars Sharni Vinson as Erin, a strange choice as her previous acting credits are largely made up of Home& Away and Step Up 3D. The team behind the film obviously saw something in her soap and dance performances that made her perfect for the role of a girlfriend with a dangerous (for some) secret. The casting was a genius one however as the role she played seemed perfect for her, almost as if she were playing herself which is quite scary. V/H/S director Ti West also features, although his part as slightly biographical director Tariq is rather short-lived. The film also stars a host of largely B-movie stars including A.J Bowen as Crispian Nicholas Tucci as Felix and Joe Swanberg as Drake who play the Davison brothers. Hopefully these stars will not stay quiet for long as their previous work and recent performances promise great things.
The team behind the film seem to have a thing about breathing new life into dying genres, having been behind the brilliant V/H/S that rejuvenated and offered new hope for the future of the found footage film. They have done exactly the same thing with You’re Next, making a chilling home invasion film that is both terrifying and hilarious.
The retired Davison’s have moved into a rural retreat with only a single neighbour around to help them. Unfortunately, these neighbours get killed off before the title screen comes up; leaving the Davison’s unknowingly helpless to the ever nearing terror they are about to experience. To help settle into the house a family reunion has been organised, as the family have not seen each other for years due to demanding jobs. As night falls the Davison’s have all arrived, complete with their other halves, and settle down for dinner. Dinner soon turns into childish argument which is only stopped when Tariq takes an arrow to the head. Queue an onslaught led by animal masked attackers and a plot twisting secret.
The plot of the film is a fresh twist on films of a similar cloak, as the hunters and hunted is constantly switched in a game of brutal cat and mouse. Except this game of cat and mouse the mouse is not so feeble. You’re Next has the face of a 21st Century horror film but with the personality of a 70s slasher. It feels very camp in some places as screaming characters flee from bemused and ruthless killers, slowly closing in to butcher their prey. These hopeless characters do however have some backstory making you feel rather bad when some of them are killed, compared to the two dimensional objects often killed off in the aforementioned 70s and 80s slashers. However, as with all horror films containing a menacing and murderous threat, there is always the odd one or two you are secretly willing to be killed off.
The brutal murders leave little to the imagination, with plenty of blood and brains to keep the viewer entertained. There is plenty of bludgeoning and stabbing and lots more to keep horror fans entertained. Entertained is the perfect word too. You’re Next does not take itself too seriously and some of the murders are laugh out loud funny. The creators choice to veer more towards the humorous feel of old school slashers does a lot for the film and had it gone the other way and tried to be serious it would have been undoubtedly terrible. Saying this, it does have its moments of cold hard terror but these are excellently executed.
The films influences could not be clearer if they were written on the screen, with a Halloween-esque musical score, shameless Straw Dogs references and even parts that whiff slightly of The Strangers. It is obvious the film is one for horror fans, made by horror fans instead of made just for the purpose of lining some Hollywood fat cats pocket.
One of the only criticisms would be that there was definitely more space for some cheesy one liners during the film. For a film that did not want to take itself too seriously, it did lack a few more cheesy lines in the midst of it, especially during some of the darkly hilarious deaths. That said, it is definitely not something to dwell upon as everything else makes up for it. It seems to have even added characters with slight depth into the mix to make up for it, rather than the usual fare horror films generally throw up. As well as this, there are plenty of poster shots that will definitely be decorating the walls of horror fans worldwide and some Halloween outfits and merchandise sure to come from the movie. It has been a long time since a horror film like that has graced the cinema screens, I mean you can’t exactly dress up as a paranormal entity and Scream masks are a tad boring now.
Overall, You’re Next is a brilliant revival of the home invasion genre and a wonderful edition to some of the brutal classics that came before it. Terrifying at some points, laugh out loud in others but always brutally entertaining. A re-watchable treat whether you are a fan of horror or not. If you are not hiding behind your cinema seat throughout the movie, you will definitely be in fits of laughter.
You’re Next is out in cinemas now.
Sleep tight and remember to lock your windows and doors…not that it’ll be of any use.
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