What’s It About? Erin (Sharni Vinson) and her boyfriend Crispian (AJ Bowen) travel to his family’s remote vacation house to celebrate Crispian’s parents’ wedding anniversary with all of the Davison clan in attendance. Unbeknownst to them all, an undiscovered double murder has just been committed by masked attackers in a property nearby. At the ten strong gathering, tensions arise between various family members but they all come together for dinner. During the lively meal, and to the group’s horror, unknown assailants begin firing crossbow bolts at them, killing one and injuring another. With the body count rising and the house isolated and under sustained assault, Erin begins to take charge of the situation, proving herself to be a fearsome match for the masked attackers. What Erin couldn’t have prepared herself for, however, is a revelation about the assailants’ cohorts that puts her in even greater danger.
Verdict: With four low budget features, one co-helmed feature, numerous shorts and segments of V/H/S, V/H/S 2 and The ABCs of Death to his name in under ten years, Adam Wingard has risen through the ranks of independent directors to be a name most genre fans are well aware of. Last August saw the theatrical release of You’re Next, written by Wingard’s frequent collaborator Simon Barrett, a graphic, pacy home invasion horror/thriller. Shot for $1,000,000, You’re Next took $26,000,000 at the box office, and deservedly so. Vicious, tightly executed, aware of the conventions it works within and happy to flit from one tone to another, You’re Next is a, ahem, cut above the average by-numbers horror release.
With a cast featuring Sharni Vinson as Erin, as ballsy a Final Girl as you’ll ever see, Barbara Crampton as Aubrey, the mother of the Erin’s boyfriend Crispian, and supporting roles/cameos as family members or attackers given to Joe Swanberg, Barrett, Ti West and Larry Fessenden, You’re Next scores high on the cult factor as well as on tension, excitement and unnerving outbursts of graphic violence. The well worn, basic premise of a home invasion by unknown aggressors is rendered so well as to negate its derivative quality, with the game cast and smart script far outweighing the somewhat signposted narrative revelation that occurs, in calculatedly cold fashion, in the run up to the film’s brutal climax. Thanks to Wingard and Barrett’s obvious understanding of and affection for horror, the pair are able to bring invention, wit and respect to the genre, in this case the home invasion sub-genre, and give the audience both what it wants and, crucially, what it’s not expecting in terms of execution.
Backed up by a great score, You’re Next manages to be a black comedy, a Giallo inspired thriller,a splatter Video Nasty and the world’s least comforting family drama while never losing its own core ‘horror’ focus or suffering from the nods to its myriad influences. I have no problem with film-makers and screenwriters working within familiar frameworks when the end results are this entertaining. The future looks bright, if bloody, for both Wingard and Barrett. Here’s hoping The Guest, their latest, upcoming collaboration, continues the pair’s mutually beneficial working relationship.
Extras: Two separate commentary tracks – one featuring Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett and the other with Wingard, Barrett, Sharni Vinson and Barbara Crampton – and No Ordinary Home Invasion: The Making of You’re Next make up the extras package on this release. All provide interesting insights into the film’s production and are entertaining additions to the film itself.
Final Words: A riot from start to finish, Wingard and Barrett’s You’re Next may follow as many genre conventions as it messes with, and it doesn’t take a genius to see where it’s going, but it’s a hell of a journey nonetheless. Taut, tinged with jet black comedy and wince-inducingly violent, it delivers the goods and then some. Recommended.
You’re Next is on DVD and Blu-ray on 13 January 2014.