'You're Next' Is Horrifying And Hilarious, With Twists And Turns Up Until The Final Frame

By James Jay Edwards
Released: August 23, 2013
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One of the smartest and most terrifying films in years, YOU'RE NEXT reinvents the genre by putting a fresh twist on home-invasion horror. When a gang of masked, ax-wielding murderers descend upon the Davison family reunion, the hapless victims seem trapped...until an unlikely guest of the family proves to be the most talented killer of all.

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Film Review
After this summer's The Purge, the home invasion subgenre has nowhere to go but up. Although it has been on the festival circuit for a while, You're Next is finally hitting theaters in mass release, just in time to save the day.

You're Next is the story of the Davison clan, a wealthy family who has gathered for a reunion of sorts at the parents' country estate. All four of the Davison children bring their significant others to the home to spend some quality time with Mom and Dad. The festivities are interrupted by a trio of animal-mask wearing, crossbow-and-axe armed hoodlums who seem bent on the random slaughter of the entire family. The Davisons are forced to fight back against their attackers. However, not all of the victims of the attack are who they seem to be; some are possessing of skills and knowledge that will help them to defend, while others are just in a better position to live through the night.

Like any innovative horror movie, You're Next is best entered into with as little knowledge about its plot as possible for it to be enjoyed to its fullest. That's why the above synopsis may seem a little dry; it is carefully omitting of any spoilers. In reality, You're Next is full of twists and turns that make it anything but boring and predictable. Director Adam Wingard and his filmmaking partner, writer Simon Barrett (the pair behind A Horrible Way to Die) do a great job at keeping the audience guessing, making a film that carefully walks the line between simple horror film and genre-bending masterpiece. Just when the viewer thinks they've got it figured out, the game changes. Then changes again. And again.

You're Next takes elements of mystery and suspense, tosses them into a slasher movie, and sprinkles in well-timed instances of dark humor. Wingard and Barrett make a serious film without taking themselves too seriously; You're Next is not exactly tongue-in-cheek, but it does present itself with a sly smirk. The cast reflects this, with members that include character actor Rob Moran (from Farrelly Brothers comedies like Me, Myself & Irene and There's Something About Mary), Scream Queen Barbara Crampton (from Re-Animator and From Beyond), and dancer/action heroine Sharni Vinson (from Step Up 3D). Wingard also uses several of his filmmaking pals in roles, with directors Ti West (The Innkeepers) and Joe Swanberg (Drinking Buddies) both playing victims and Simon Barrett himself playing the Tiger Masked killer. The casting just adds to the subtle in-jokes that make You're Next that much more enjoyable.

So, in summary, You're Next should be considered essential viewing for horror fans. It's horrifying most of the time, hilarious some of the time, and just downright entertaining. And yes, there is lots of blood.
Shot mainly with handheld cameras, You're Next is very similar in look and feel to The Strangers. Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo (who worked with Barrett and Wingard on their segment for V/H/S) makes liberal use of ever-so-slight camera motion that keeps the viewer just a little uncomfortable for the entire film. There are also tons of extreme close-ups, partially to show details, but also to manufacture a claustrophobic, trapped feeling in the audience. The tight shots lose their effectiveness a little during some of the quick action scenes that are peppered throughout the movie, but the resulting disorientation almost works to the film's advantage by keeping the viewer on edge. As a whole, You're Next is a very unsettling film, thanks in big part to Palermo's photography.
Scary Factor
There are a few different methods of terror at work in You're Next. Of course, there are plenty of jump scares that serve more to shock and disorient the viewer, setting them up for the real heavy stuff. There's also a ton of good, old-fashioned Hitchcockian suspense at work, with the Animal Masks always somewhere nearby, sometimes their location known to the audience and sometimes not. And then, there are the creepy-as-hell masks; seemingly innocent children's masks, the lamb, tiger, and fox take on a whole new meaning within the context of You're Next's killers. However, the most disturbing type of fear inspired is the same type of fear that was inspired by The Strangers: the fact that the situation seems like it could really happen. The isolation of the Davison's home makes it the perfect location for such a murder spree. While the treatment of the matter is more realistic in The Strangers, and therefore scarier, the us-against-them hopelessness that is shown onscreen in You're Next is possibly the most frightening thing about the film, forcing the audience to ask themselves the question, "what would you do?"

Horror, Thriller
Release Date
August 23, 2013
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