**** (out of 5)
August 23, 2013
Sharni Vinson as ERIN
Nicholas Tucci as FELIX
Wendy Glenn as ZEE
AJ Bowen as CRISPIAN
Joe Swanberg as DRAKE
Margaret Laney as KELLY
Amy Seimetz as AIMEE
Ti West as TARIQ
Rob Moran as PAUL
Barbara Crampton as AUBREY
Directed by: Adam Wingard
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“You’re Next” has been one of those movies that people with their ear to the ground of independent film and horror movies have heard about for months, even if the general public hasn’t. There’s lot of ground-level buzz for the film, ever since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival years ago. Depending on who you listen to, that’s good buzz or bad buzz.
This is because “You’re Next” is a polarizing movie. I’ve heard few people give it a so-so review. It’s either a masterpiece of sardonic horror or a steaming pile of crap. I don’t want to stoop to the level of suggesting that people who do not like “You’re Next” don’t get. After all, that’s frankly insulting. Rather, I suggest that for those who don’t find it to be a blast, it’s just not their cup of tea.
And that’s okay. But for someone like me who has grown up on a steady diet of horror films and constantly looks for a new angle on the genre, it was a hoot.
On the surface (and if you were to believe the straightforward nature of the trailers), “You’re Next” is just a simple home invasion movie, something akin to “The Strangers” from 2008. However, there’s an entire level beyond that with the film. Still, the set-up is pretty standard: A family gets together for a weekend trip with the aging parents and their adult children, along with their significant others. During dinner, masked figures descend upon the house and start picking them off one-by-one.
“You’re Next” is a movie that is hard to fit in a box. On one hand, it works as a suspenseful horror film, featuring multiple stalking moments and real dread as various people die in grisly ways. However, on the other hand, it has some of the funniest moments you’ll see all year, but that humor is masked in absurdity (like the killers of the movie).
It’s not a comedy, and it would be wrong to categorize it that way. The laughs come from an awareness of its own genre, with characters delivering intentionally ridiculous dialogue with dead seriousness. In a strange way, some of these are laugh-out-loud moments but not entirely unrealistic, considering the bizarre nature real people exhibit in high-stress situations.
In some ways, “You’re Next” dives gleefully into its own genre (of horror movies in general) and subgenres (of slasher films and home invasion movies) by playing with its own cliches and tropes. On the other hand, it turns these subgenres on their ear, offering a different take on what you’d expect to be a relatively basic story.
Similar to “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead,” each of which works as a genre film (buddy cop for “Hot Fuzz” and zombie movie for “Shaun of the Dead”) and a send-up of the genre itself, “You’re Next” is a smartly devised horror movie masquerading as a really dumb one. It works fine on the surface with cheesy dialogue to deliver violence and kills, but it also works to deconstruct the films that came before it. This may be lost on those who are not aficionados of horror movies, and it might have trouble finding a mainstream audience. But that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most wildly (and uncomfortably) entertaining movies I’ve seen in a long time.