Saturday, January 11, 2014

You’re Next

Did you remember to lock your door?

The tagline of the film is what you’ll be asking yourself once you get into the first few minutes of You’re Next, a little-known horror film—directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett (both of V/H/S fame)—that was released earlier this year (even though the film is listed as 2011) to a small number of theaters.  Yes, the first part of the film will get under your skin and make you second guess how secure your house or apartment is as you see what goes on in this film.

A while back, I had come across the title of this film on a web site which featured the trailer for it.  The synopsis sounded good so I clicked on the link for the trailer and was amazed by what I had seen, making me want to see this film whenever it was to be released.  Recognizing Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond) and Joe Swanberg (V/H/S), it piqued my curiosity and after seeing this trailer, I was blown away.  I was thinking it may be a while before we see this one because I had noticed that the film was made in 2011.  Even though I missed the short run in theaters, it finally showed up in the OnDemand menu on Comcast, so I gladly paid the $5.99 to take a look.

After an opening scene, introducing us to the mysterious murderers in flashes and show how they brutally kill a couple in their house (neighbors to the family we’ll be introduced to in the next few minutes of the film), isolated in the woods, the main story begins.  Aubrey (Crampton) and her husband, Paul (Rob Moran), decide to have a get-together at their mansion-of-a-vacation-home out in the woods and invite their children, as well as their significant others.   Crispian (AJ Bowen) and his fiancĂ©e, Erin (Sharni Vinson), are the first to
arrive after Aubrey is frightened by what she thinks is someone walking upstairs in the house.  We’re soon
introduced to their other son, Drake (Joe Swanberg), and his wife, Aimee (Amy Seimetz), another son, Felix (Nicholas Tucci), and his girlfriend, Zee (Wendy Glenn), and their daughter, Kelly (Sarah Myers), and her boyfriend, Tariq (Ti West).  Right away, the siblings are at each other’s throats, clearly dysfunctional in every way.  As they all get into an argument at the dinner table, Tariq sees something outside.  He gets up, with no one paying attention as they are all enveloped in a huge argument, and walks over to the window to get a better view at what he’s seeing.  We hear a whooshing sound and see something shoot through the glass, but the family is oblivious to what has happened as they are still absorbed in a massive quarrel.  One by one, they start looking over at Tariq and we see he has an arrow in his head as he collapses to the floor.  As the women scream, arrows start flying into the house leaving the family members to take cover and figure out how to stay alive.

Right away, you’re captivated by You’re Next.  Although it takes a bit to get to know the characters as their backgrounds are developed, it doesn’t take long for the shit to hit the fan.  But each sibling has their own character developed right away and we understand their ways easily, from the brother who has a chip on his shoulder to the asshole brother who gladly points it out, we quickly get to know them all. 

It helps the story tremendously to have the introductory kills in the beginning of the film to familiarize us with the killers.  And by familiarize, it’s just to show us their mysterious appearance and that they seem to kill withThe Strangers, and how much more scary it is that we, as the audience, don’t know their identity or they motives for what they do.
attrition, though it looks as if they’re enjoying what they’re doing.  The way they’re shown—at first—as enigmatic assassins harkens back to the film,

Instead of the typical slasher formula we’re so used to seeing in films like this, we have a strong heroine who decides to fight back and doesn’t make the same mistakes we’ve seen countless times in horror films before this one.  If you’re familiar with Zombieland and the rules the main character is always citing throughout in that film, you may remember the rule about “Double-Tap.”  Well, the girl who fights back in this one goes by the rule of “Decuple-Tap” (you may have to look that up—I did).

It’s good to see Barbara Crampton again after all these years.  I’ve only seen her in Re-Animator and From Beyond, but not much else.  I’d heard she was in Lords of Salem, but I haven’t gotten around to checking that one out yet.  In You’re Next, however, she puts on a good performance as the matriarch of the family, who may have some psychological problems.  Because, although it’s not said out loud, it’s implied she may have some issues that cause her to freak out, as we see the father and son kind of roll their eyes when she’s first terrified that there may be someone else in the house.

Another performance that may be perceived as the comic relief of the film is Joe Swanberg as the asshole brother, Drake.  He easily fits in this roll and gives a much better performance than he did in V/H/S.  The comments that he makes throughout this film had me laughing out loud at times.  One thing that struck me kind of funny is that in both V/H/S and You’re Next, there are scenes where he fails miserably at trying to score with his significant other.

Finally, Sharni Vinson’s performance as the girl who fights back was great.  Even though the reasoning given in the film felt sort of forced, it still worked and gave us someone to cheer for throughout.

What made this film very interesting are the two twists toward the end.  The first one may, or may not, catch you off-guard.  But the second one, I saw it coming as soon as the first twist revealed itself.  Even still, the kills were very inventive and original, the performances give you the sense of dread the characters are feeling, and you can’t help but think about a game plan you might want to get together in your house should something like this happens.

So, my final “bit” on You’re Next?

The movie will hold you captive and enthralled, wondering how the characters will fare against the unknown assailants.  The film is dark and moody, giving us all the right ingredients for a very interesting story.  We have people to cheer for, people to root against, and a character that gives us a chuckle every so often.  As a picky home media collector, I’m going to make sure to add this title to my assortment of films.  You should, too.  If not, at least rent this and give it a look.  I guarantee it’ll keep you engrossed.

Thanks for reading and I welcome any comments!

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