It’s been a long road for You’re Next. The indie horror film has been in development since the earlier 2000s and even once it was finished it took more than a year to find a distributor who would get it out there. Lionsgate eventually stepped in and now the movie is tearing through the festivals gaining an impressive word of mouth.
It deserves it too. This is one of the most creative, original, genre exploring blood baths in a good long while. In a genre that is especially heavy on quick remakes and cheap chash-ins You’re Next is a fantastic outlier.
[This review originally ran as part of our South by Southwest 2013 coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]
Director: Adam Wingard
Release Date: August 23, 2013
You’re Next is a home invasion thriller/slasher. You know the ones where a group of people are holed up somewhere and they start getting picked off one by one by some psychotic killer. Those can be fun, but rarely does one come along with a story as clever as You’re Next‘. Erin (Sharni Vinson) arrives at her new boyfriend’s rich parent’s house for their 35th wedding anniversary. We’re quickly introduced to the disjointed family which consists of mom and dad, three brothers, one sister and their significant others. In short, plenty of people to kill. And kill they do, as a group of men in creepy animal masks starts to slaughter them off. These killers, however, didn’t count on Erin being a trained survivalist and all around ninja.
It’s this little point that turns the move from a slasher with some cool kills in it into something a whole lot smarter. By empowering the clichéd female lead into a total kick-ass (her first kill is something out of a kung-fu movie) they flip genre conventions on their heads to the point that you wonder who the real psychotic killer is. It makes for a great story and an even better horror movie since it’s actually, you know, interesting. Vinson also lends the semi-ridiculous character of Erin a bit more believability by presenting a far more layered heroin than you’d expect from a film where machetes penetrate multiple skulls.
Of course this is a slasher film, and all the genre analysis and clever story telling don’t matter a lick if the kills aren’t good. You’re Next‘s kills are some of the best I’ve seen in a long while, which is even more impressive because most of them are so simple. Director Adam Wingard takes kills we’ve seen a thousand times (machetes, slit throats, arrows, etc) and either reinvents them or delivers them in such a great way that they seem utterly original. Plus, the penultimate kill at the end is easily one of my favorites in any film and had me applauding when it landed.
One last note is the movie’s soundtrack, which absolutely blew me away (a bit too literally as the theater’s sound system was cranked to 11). It’s a modern update on the driving scores of 80s slasher films and almost perfectly executed. Sound is such an important aspect of horror films and You’re Next‘s score is what ties this film together and turns what could have simply been a lot of great blood and gore into something that is truly scary and thrilling.
Now that Lionsgate has picked it up this is a movie you’re going to need to track down and see once it hits theaters in August. Even if it doesn’t get a wide release this will hit VOD and start spreading as a classic thanks to word of mouth. Smart, inventive and wickedly fun, You’re Next is what should be next in your horror movie lineup.
Alec Kubas-Meyer: You’re Next gets something of a pass because, even though it’s being released in 2013, it was made before Cabin in the Woods did its modern deconstruction of the horror genre. It’s still unforgivable that the characters split up when in danger (and the survivalist protagonist lets them do it), but less so. In 2013, that stuff won’t fly, but in 2011, it could tepidly get off the ground. But even though the movie’s a few years old, it’s still one heck of a good time. You’re Next isn’t really traditional horror, and it certainly isn’t a traditional home invasion story. Once the motivation’s out of the bag, it goes from a horror film to more of an ultra-violent thriller-comedy. The thrills are great, the comedy is freaking awesome, and the violence great too, even if some of the kills (especially at the end) are over-the-top in a bad way. If any of that sounds good to you, it’s hard not to recommend this one to anybody who wants to see both rich people and their assailants get mercilessly slaughtered. Good times, mate. 83 – Great