Friday, August 23, 2013

YOU'RE NEXT Review - Javi's Take

Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by:  Simon Barrett
Starring: Sharni Vinson, A.J. Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Barbara Crampton, Rob Moran, Amy Seimetz, and Nicholas Tucci.
Synopsis: A family reunion is interrupted by a group of masked assailants. 

The deconstruction of genre movies seems to be the big rage in this day and age. There seems to be no short end of movies like CABIN IN THE WOODS that are trying to tear down horror genre tropes while trying to make a larger point about culture. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, too much meta commentary can get a little tiresome every once in a while. Where YOU'RE NEXT succeeds is not being some deep meditation on the concept of horror movies, its tropes, or human's propensity for violence, but rather a well-written and beautifully shot film. It's an example of what a horror movie should be with the right dose of empathy for its characters and off-beat humor.

YOU'RE NEXT deals with the Davison family getting together in a remote country side home to celebrate the parent's 35 year anniversary. Of course, where there is a family reunion, there is always going to be fighting, tension, and passive aggressive comments. The first third of the film thrusts us in the middle of these people lives, and you can tell their archetypes and family dynamic, and yet you care about the family. This is a direct result of the performances and the writing. Joe Swanberg as the oldest brother, Drake, is the Ivy League, pill-popping, good ol' boy that looks like a successful career man. Crispian is technically one of the protagonists, and he is the slightly chubby, creeper professor with his new former student girlfriend, Erin (Sharni Vinson). You have Amy Seimetz (UPSTREAM COLOR star!) as Aimee, the daddy's girl that just lost weight recently and wants to make sure everyone knows that she has a boyfriend. Finally out of the kids, Nicholas Tucci as Felix, the youngest of the siblings and the dark, moody, and possibly former goth kid of the family. Rounding out the family are the parents Aubrey and Paul, a retired defense contractor, played by Barbara Crampton and Rob Moran.

A recurring problem of horror movies is that a majority of the time, you are rooting for the villains/monsters/demons to kill the protagonists because the victims are such one-note assholes. During the dinner scene, everything from the the body language to the passive-aggressive whispers show the resentment between Felix and the rest of his siblings, or the insecurity of Amy, or the tension between Drake and Crispian thanks to Drake's success. Even if you only spend a few moments there, the actors are able to tell years worth of history and tensions to the point of feeling scared for their survival once the arrows start flying and the machetes start swinging.

As villains, the masked animal killers have been the focus of the marketing, which was a clever move. In the movie, they are effective in being scary and intimidating in the first part of the movie when they are stalking the family and they stay within the shadows. If there is to be a complaint to be had is that their impact within the story is diminished once they are unmasked, and they stalk the Davisons more openly. What keeps the film going is the juxtaposition of terrible violence and some really funny dialogue between the victims and the the killers.

It should be noted that the MVPs of this movie are Sharni Vinson as Erin and Adam Wingard's direction. Vinson was previously the lead in STEP UP 3D, but after YOU'RE NEXT comes out, this should be the role that she will be known for. When the attacks begin and she turns out to be the most competent person in the entire group, you'd think that she'd just be a one-note badass, but as the night goes on, she goes through an almost exhausting range of emotions. And finally, this has to be one of the most beautifully shot movies of this year. While the camera has an unfortunate tendency of being rather shaky and chaotic at the beginning of the attack and just like with Vinson's performance, it gets more stylized. There is a particular sequence involving a camera that was the highlight of the movie visually.

YOU'RE NEXT was heavily hyped after its rather infamous appearance during Fantastic Fest 2011. Ever since then, various critics and fans have been hyping up the movie to almost impossible levels. Thing is, depending on just how much you have heard about it, it actually does live up to the hype. Between the great cast and the great dialogue that they are given, this is the best horror movie of the year so far and one of the best movies of the year.


  1. Nice review Javier. Definitely doesn’t change the game of house-invasion thrillers, but is still fun and exciting for what it is. Even if it isn’t all that scary really.

  2. Dan,

    I'm right there with you. I didn't find it that scary at all but it was really enjoyable.