For most of us cinephiles, we remember the first time we saw a movie, whether it be in the theater, or at home. If the film shakes you, positively or negatively, there’s a residue left that seeps into your memory and makes it challenging to let go. Well, I don’t want to- so I’m going to highlight some Kristy horror history for this wonderful, special, month of October.
So, the idea of a family being stalked by an unknown group of people isn’t a new concept, yet, You’re Next does so in a way that is absolutely delightful. Yes, I used that word. Have you noticed? I adore the concept of terror- when displayed in a different form within cinema. This is why I feel the need to exclaim: You’re Next is a power to be reckoned with, even if some may not see it beyond its surface level flavor. Why? Let me tell you…
Not only do we have a badass female lead, of the likes of many of the iconic final girls of the past but one that goes further with a true knack for killing- but, wait, there’s more: We’ve got some groovy tunes to murder to (some interesting kills) and attackers who use correct grammar. Be still my heart: I love it when they do that.
When I saw You’re Next I wasn’t entirely sold at first. I loved that there was a sort of underlying playful tone, and an awareness that you were in fact, watching a movie (which is usually because of the acting or writing) and can either be intentional or not, but I wasn’t sure I was seeing anything new. In the end, it didn’t really matter if this broke the mold because it was so much damn fun. When I’ve rewatched it since its release, even again recently, that same energy is present, despite knowing what is coming. Almost all of the gore on screen emerges with a clash, never relenting on the shocks and awe. This was also a film that (still) seems to be under the radar and overlooked. Of course it doesn’t help that it was made and then put on the backburner, waiting to truly greet audiences.
Most of the film takes place (with the exception of one scene) in and around a secluded large house, as a family gets together to celebrate their parent’s (Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton) 35th anniversary. Their four children and significant others all show up, and soon, are hunted by masked attackers. Things have clearly been rocky between the family for a while, with a shared messy history, and amid a dinner of squabbling, things get serious, very fast. It’s a mic-drop moment that instantly thrusts the film into a suspenseful place, proving that Adam Wingard’s take on the invasion story isn’t one to be missed.
None of the characters are particularly likeable, which doesn’t make it any easier to see them meet their demise. That is with the exception of middle child Crispian’s (AJ Bowen) girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson), who seems to be the only one proactive in fighting their assailants, and one of the only truly rootable characters. Gosh I love her. In fact, she may just be the most dangeous one of them all.
(Bonus, another character in the film is played by Ti West, who directed a previous Spooktober review: The House of the Devil.)
There’s a merging line that You’re Next traces around black comedy, narrowly near parody, that eventually pools around horror. It does so in a way that ensnares the best of the two worlds, while maintaining a level of intrigue. Why are they being targeted? Is it random or is there more to it? Also, can anything not be used as a weapon? You’re Next subverts a lot of tropes, while leaning into others, making it a delicious blend of bloody fun. And yes, most things can be weapons.
Directed by Adam Wingard, it’s a sly thriller that seems self-aware of its intent, making the laughs land, the synthy-score pop, and the thrills and kills squeamishly entertaining.
A smart take on the home-invasion horror You’re Next offers plenty of realistic terror with situational comedy. Not everything hits the perfect note, but it’s more than enough to have a blast with it if you’ll allow it to. Also, the final shot of the film is surprisingly perfect and unexpected (as well as the credits). Give it a go, I dare ya.