You're Next

You're Next

by Adam Wingard

The home invasion subgenre of horror has never really appealed to me. Sure, home invasion is quite a believable and realistic scenario but it's harder to relate to. I personally think that unless you've been through a home invasion or have a legitimate fear of one then these films aren't very scary. Films like The Strangers and The Purge take believable concepts but present them in unbelievable scenarios. I first heard about You're Next around the time The Purge came out. I dismissed it as another typical home invasion flick. However, a friend, who also dislikes home invasion movies, recommended it to me. I put it off for a while but eventually gave in and I was pleasantly surprised.

The Davison family is having what's supposed to be a pleasant family reunion. However, like all families, they don't always get along. Crispian, one of the sons decides to bring his new girlfriend, Erin. His brother, Drake, finds Crispian and Erin's relationship to be inappropriate since she was one of Crispian's former students. This fact provokes an argument between the two over dinner. During the conflict an arrow kills their sister's boyfriend. Mysterious men in masks have targeted the Davison family and don't intend to leave survivors. The one thing that the Davisons have going for them is Erin, her father raised her to become a survivalist and she's really good at killing people.

I guess what sets this apart from most home invasion films is that the there is an actual plot to follow. Most of these movies center around a family that has been randomly targeted for unknown reasons and they must survive the night. The whole "randomly" selected thing doesn't really appeal to me, I don't find it believable. If you want to make a situation realistic then believability is key. When people are murdered it's hardly ever random. Killers often have motives and victims tend to be murdered by someone they know. That's what was enjoyable about this film in particular. The movie tries to make the attacks seem random but they are not. Someone actually wants the Davisons dead. People in horror movies always make stupid choices that lead to their death, which was always annoying. I've heard arguments that horror movies would be uninteresting to watch if they always made the right choices, which could be true. You're Next takes one character that knows how to survive and surrounds her with normal people. She always makes the right decisions and the Davisons are unwilling to listen to her and harm often comes to them because of it. We like to think that we would make the right choices in a horror movie but we can't really say that. Most of us would make the stupid decisions thinking them to be the right at the time. You can never know what the right course to take was until you're already dead.

I really liked that this movie integrated really dark humor. My favorite moment is the argument between Ti West's character and Drake about underground movies. West's character is a filmmaker, like West himself, and the character Drake doesn't quite get it and insults the filmmaker's career choice. I laughed at this moment because I think it's something every artist has experienced. Sure, you could be a filmmaker who chooses to make documentaries and someone thinks lowly of it and compares it to making commercials. There was one long running joke that kept me on the edge of my seat; Erin creates a trap on the front door and any time it appears that someone will enter via the door they enter through the window instead. Also, some of the kills are gruesome and hilarious, I'm not going to spoil it but someone is killed with a blender. Hands down one of my favorite horror movie kills.

I thought that Adam Wingard pulled together one solid cast for this movie. Scream Queen Barbara Crampton, well known for her work in Re-animator, appears as the mother of the Davison family who is the family oriented affectionate mother. A.J. Bowen one of my personal favorite contemporary horror icons makes an appearance as Crispian. In most films I've seen with Bowen his fate at the end of his movies aren't usually positive. I feel like he's such a strong actor but I feel like with the exception of The Sacrament he doesn't get the screen time he deserves. I really think he should get more leading roles than he's gifted with. Sharni Vinson was an actress I've never heard of prior to this movie. However, her previous track record with films like Step Up 3D and Blue Crush 2 were quite surprising. You're Next is the kind of film that relies solely on the shoulders of the lead role. I personally wouldn't have thought to choose someone with a record of those previously mentioned abominations but she worked out great. Looking at some of her more recent films, which consist mainly of horror, I think I see a future scream queen in our midst.

Despite being a part of a subgenre that I'm not a fan of, I really loved You're Next. I really only had one issue with the movie, unfortunately I can't go into much detail. I can say that the last plot twist towards the end of the movie was very predictable. Either that or I'm too good at predicting the ending of movies. One criticism that is unrelated to the actual movie, the DVD cover looks too much like the DVD cover for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, that's just me being picky as hell. Other than that, I think that Adam Wingard did a brilliant job with this movie. I think it was a refreshing twist on an overused genre. I actually like home invasion flicks a little more because of this movie. I'm not too familiar with Wingard's other works besides V/H/S, I don't think I can fairly judge his work based on the framing device he directed in the first film and his segment that I really despised from the second. I've heard of A Horrible Way To Die, I don't know that much about it but I'm willing to give some more of his feature length works a shot!

Billy Wayne Martin, HMS

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About the reviewer:

Billy Wayne Martin graduated from the University of the Arts in 2012. He majored in Illustration and had a few credits short of a creative writing minor. He works freelance and does an occasional gallery show. Even though he is first and foremost a visual artist, he loves to write. His work can get weird sometimes, but often it’s sickeningly cute. You would probably never guess that he’s a passionate horror fan. It started when he watched Rosemary’s Baby at way too young of an age. He absolutely can’t get enough of horror in all of its forms. He currently resides in Pennsylvania where he hopes to no longer reside in Pennsylvania.