Starring Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Barbara Crampton, Wendy Glenn
Release date: 28 August 2013
Showing at FrightFest on 23 August
The Davisons’ long-overdue family reunion is ruined by killers in animal masks…
The set-up is familiar: intruders break into the house of a dysfunctional but wealthy family and off the inhabitants one by one. Yet the latest feature from Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, V/H/S) isn’t the by-numbers home invasion/slasher hybrid it might sound. The presence of Ti West as a pompous indie director is perhaps the first sign that Windgard is out to subvert horror-hounds’ expectations: like West’s terrific The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil, this is a smart and subversive twist on well-worn conventions that’s been put together with a great deal of flair.
Crucially, despite the unpredictable plot twists, You’re Next delivers where it counts. The kills, involving everything from razor wire to food processor, are inventive. There are buckets of blood. And there are some terrific set-pieces, including the sympathetic ‘final girl’ Erin outfoxing a killer with the aid of flash-bulbs and the best arrow attack scene you’re likely to see outside of a 1950s Western.
Yet Wingard is able to shift from high-tension to very funny deadpan comedy without annihilating the atmosphere – a rare feat. Many of the laughs comes from the familial bickering, which continues to bubble amid the stalking and slashing: Joe Swanberg’s smarmy Drake enjoys nothing better than mocking his cuddly, cowardly brother Crispian (The House of the Devil’s AJ Bowen) – even when he has an arrow imbedded in his shoulder. But Windgard’s dedication to subverting horror clichés like dark basements, killers’ motivations and escape strategies also raise a wry (if nervous) smile: watch out for a wickedly amusing backstory to explain Erin’s MacGyver-like skills. Scream was never this smart.
Throw in some creepy masked baddies, Re-Animator’s Barbara Crampton as the Davison matriarch and a John Carpenter-esque score, and you’ve got one of the year’s best horror films.
Verdict: Smart, subversive, surprising and violent. You may never want to listen to Lookin’ for the Magic by the Dwight Twilley Band ever again though. 8/10