You’re Next (2013) Review

You're Next posterDirector: Adam Wingard

Writer: Simon Barrett

Certificate: 18  Running Time: 1hr 34 Mins

Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen

Plot: The Davison family are re-united for an anniversary celebration when a group of masked assailants interrupt proceedings with murderous intentions..

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The collaboration between expert screenwriter Simon Barrett and horror supremo Adam Wingard continues to evolve and develop into one of the most potent combinations in modern day genre cinema. Aside from one average feature length film (A Horrible way to Die in 2010), the duo are famous for their memorable contributions towards the recent wave of horror anthology features. They have unsettled us with the creepy ‘Tape 56’ segment for V/H/S, the startling ‘clinical trials’ entry in V/H/S 2 and offered comic relief with their black humour segment for the disappointing ABCs of Death. The pair’s latest project, You’re Next, initially premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2011 but surprisingly remained in limbo for 2 years before its eventual release this year.

Fittingly entitled, You’re Next harks back to horror conventions, effectively re-animating the slasher sub-genre with its deliriously entertaining take on the dreaded home invasion scenario. Not for the faint of heart, You’re Next is an unrelenting descent into the depths of one of Jason Voorhees’ crazed nightmares. A blazing shell encased with the regrets of a wealthy family, Wingard toys with the notion that the barbarity of violence is a faint reflection of the grotesque relations which exist in the Davison family. Although Barretts script offers little in terms of backstory, it would be a real challenge to seek a genre film with such crowd pleasing credentials this year.

Whilst not being as innately creepy as The Strangers (2008), there are moments which genuinely shock, scenes which tantalisingly build in suspense and a culmination which refreshingly satisfies. The effective slasher film has always crafted a meaningful screen presence to care for, it is a component which has not withered with time and remains integral to the scriptwriting process. Wes Craven’s most iconic heroines have surfaced in such films, think back to Nancy’s insomniac struggle against Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Sidney’s frantic attempts to escape ghostface in Scream (1996). Fast forward to modern day, Wingard and Barrett have reverted to type and conjured up the unlikeliest hero for the audience to side with amidst the barbarity. Sharni Vinson (Erin) and Nicholas Tucci (Felix) are real stars in the making.

The sinister animal masks are perfectly leveraged to dehumanise the trespassers, a metaphor for the violent animalistic instinct within all of us? If we were anonymous would more of us commit atrocities for personal gain? Look out for the superb flash photography sequence in the darkened basement, one of the clear standout pieces of horror cinema this year. Despite such moments of brilliance, the ultra-violent nature of You’re Next is not for all tastes. The pulverisations rack up and at times feel repetitively mindless in their execution. To Wingard’s credit, the furious pacing ensures action scenes blend together rather than such scenes being forcefully enjoined.

The film has been a box office hit and it represents an important milestone in Wingard’s career. In a year where genre filmmakers have looked to the past to find inspiration (James Wan’s The Conjuring, the prime example ), You’re Next is testament that scare tactics from a bygone era can be recycled to terrify contemporary audiences all the same.