Sunday, 8 September 2013

You're Next (2013): Review (spoiler free)

You're Next is a 2013 post-modern home invasion film. Directed by Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, V/H/S 1&2) starring Sharni Vinson (Bait), Joe Swanberg (V/H/S) and AJ Bowen (House of the Devil). The film was completed in 2011 but  not able to be released widely until 2013.

The film centres around the Davison family, particularly son Crispian (Bowen) and girlfriend Erin (Vinson), reuniting at their country home for the weekend but, as the prologue reveals, there are masked killers in the local area who have other ideas. As the sibling pleasantries soon melt away it becomes clear that the Davison family have a lot of tension and ill feelings towards each other but before they get to work out their differences over dinner they are interrupted by the masked antagonists. What follows is an ultra violent game of Cluedo as the Davison clan start to drop like flies and more than a few seem to have ulterior motives.

Some have called You're Next a horror comedy or a "meta" horror film but I feel both of those labels are a little too convenient. Above all You're Next is a fun horror film and harks back to the spirit of the cheesy 80s whodunit slasher, both in it's tone and it's delivery. This works in the film's favour enormously and, as any good homage to horror cliche, always knows when crack wise or give a wink to the audience. There's a real common sense to this and if you can't reinvent the genre (as few can) then why not play fast and loose with the established tropes and subvert the genre, and Wingard certainly seems to know his horror onions!

In terms of it's home invasion riffs I found it seemed to play off Home Alone (1990) more than any other and, after all, isn't Home alone the most fun home invasion film. This even involves direct recreations of some of the Home Alone booby traps and accompanying slapstick and when you consider that the film manages to combine this with extreme violence and a definite brooding atmosphere at times then you start to appreciate that this melding of styles is no mean feat. The film also subverts the slasher genre in particular by having a strong female protagonist in Vinson, possibly the most murderous female in a slasher since Mrs Voorhees lost her head.

I can best describe You're Next as Scream meets Home alone, it avoids being too "meta" for it's own good but still deftly sidesteps cliche with tremendous comic timing. Certainly not a game-changer or a modern classic but there's enough there to keep any horror fan guessing and laughing and how many modern horror films can you honestly say are just pure fun.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of You're Next? Did you find it scary or funny?


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