It’s happened. It’s finally fucking happened. The movie that I’ve been waiting to see after having heard about for two fucking years has finally been viewed by my wolf eyes. Ya know, when I got accepted to attend SXSW, I just thought it would be a cool experience and I’d have the opportunity to check out a few movies that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to see for a month or two. I had no fucking idea, until after I had been accepted, that I’d finally get the fucking chance to see You’re Next. Granted, this is after I had heard that it was going to be released in August by Lionsgate, but still, seeing it at a festival in a packed theater wouldn’t compare at all to going to see it at a random showing up a multiplex. I’m going to do my best to avoid giving too many spoilers, as this movie has been shrouded in mystery for two years, but I’m not going to leave you guys in the dark as I feel that the mystery surrounding it is one of the things this movie had stacked against it. Is that confusing? Probably, so let’s just get on with the review.
You didn’t even take your boots off? You’re going to ruin that beautiful floor, asshole.
After an older gentleman finishes having sex with a younger lady, he takes a shower while she puts on a CD and hits “repeat”. Something frightens this girl, and when her gentleman friend comes out of the shower, he sees her dead body and the words “YOU’RE NEXT” written on the wall in blood. We then see a married couple on their way to one of their vacation homes where they are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. They’ve invited their 3 sons and daughter to join them, and each of them brings along their significant other. This has been the first time the whole family has been together in a long time, so tensions are pretty high, especially between Crispian (AJ Bowen) and older brother Drake (Joe Swanberg). Drake is acting like a typical older brother, sucking up to his parents, questioning Crispian’s career, and calling his relationship with former student Erin (Sharni Vinson) unprofessional. As the tensions mount at dinner, there’s suddenly the sound of shattering glass as an arrow is fired at one of the dinner guests from somewhere outside. This kicks off a series of events that shows a group of animal-masked attackers trying to pick off everyone in the house, one by one, which starts off as a relatively easy task for them. However, I don’t think they knew the fact that Erin had grown up on a survivalist commune, so while the bickering bourgeoisie can do nothing but cower in fear, Erin refuses to let these attackers get away with what they’re doing in this hilarious and violent reinterpretation of the traditional home invasion genre.
There’s no way you can be comfortable leaning up against that. Come on lady, get your life together.
This movie is so much fucking fun. I mentioned earlier that one of the things that this movie had going against it was the fact that there’d been such a positive response. It premiered two years ago and has only played at a handful of festivals since then, and every review I’ve read typically involves the word “awesome”. This means that going into the movie, the only things I really knew were that it was a home invasion movie and that it was awesome. However, awesome is a pretty subjective word and can be interpreted in multiple ways, and I think that’s where the trouble lies. A bunch of people who I follow on Twitter who had also seen the screening I was in commented on how You’re Next didn’t live up to the “hype” that had been building for two years, and frankly, I agreed with them. The problem is that nobody really said WHY it was so good, just that it was as good as it was. Maybe it’s just the reviews I read, but no one said if it was awesome because it was scary or because it was gory or because it was hilarious, so that arbitrary “awesomeness” was open to the interpretation of anyone who had heard about it. Without elaborating on why it was so good, I had built it up in my mind to be 100% of everything I was looking for in a horror movie, so if I end up getting only 95% of what I want in a horror movie, than I’m going to be a little let down. That being said, I absolutely got 95% of what I want in a horror movie, if not more, and I still fucking loved this movie.
Gotta love a creeper in an animal mask!
Where do I even begin to talk about what makes this movie so great? The core concept of a home invasion movie doesn’t leave that much room for experimentation, as most of these movies involves people in a house being attacked for whatever arbitrary reason. The reveal of why the attackers are doing what they’re doing gives them motivation, but even before you get that far into the movie, the concept of these three masked assailants picking off the family members one at a time is kind of creepy. Specifically one scene that, without giving the details, implies the amount of time the killers had spent inside the house before anyone even noticed them is something I thought was really creepy. I mention that this movie is funny, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen other films written by Simon Barrett. A big influence on the tone of the film, as said by director Adam Wingard, was the opening sequence of Scream. Simon manages to tap into walking that fine line of being self-reflexive of what genre this movie falls under without mocking home invasion movies as a whole. Does that make sense? The script is smart and witty without insulting the home invasion genre. However, the script would be nothing if it weren’t delivered by such a great cast. Everyone was great in the film, but the relationship developed between Crispian and Drake is, well, wow. Just wow. The scenes where AJ Bowen, as the younger brother who is sensitive to judgement, playing off of the caricature of older brother Drake is, well, let’s just say I could watch these two interact together for hours on end. I’m a big fan of AJ Bowen’s work, and he’s typically my favorite part of most films he’s in, but for as great as he is in this, Joe Swanberg…holy shit. Fucking phenomenal. Not to mention Sharni Vinson, who was a nice addition to this group of frequent filmmaking collaborators, whose strength reminded me a lot of Shauna Macdonald’s asskicking in The Descent. And even though we don’t get to see the mom that much in the film, she’s played by Barbara Crampton, so it was great to see such a wonderful actress with an amazing reputation popping up in this movie as a kind of seal of approval.
Guys, I really DID want to show you pictures of things that happen in this movie besides these dudes in masks, but my research shows that these guys are all that the internet cares about.
Considering the minds behind You’re Next, I had also kind of anticipated this movie to be insanely violent. Not that I particularly wanted it to be violent or anything, I guess that given their work on the V/H/S films, I had expected some crazy, crazy shit. It actually ended up being tamer than expected. GUYS, RELAX, BEFORE YOU GET MAD, THERE WAS CRAZY SHIT IN THIS MOVIE. I don’t want to give away all of the kills or anything, because there are some decent ones, just don’t expect a wall to wall bloodbath or anything. This also could be that prior to seeing this film I had seen Evil Dead and V/H/S/2, which were both heavy on the gore, so I just found it interesting that this film didn’t incorporate as much carnage as those films to be as entertaining as it was. Even though this movie is a great example of a home invasion movie, it’s still ultimately a home invasion movie, which typically aren’t the horror films I enjoy. There’s probably also a lot of people out there who love home invasion movies, so those people might fall head over heels in love with this movie, as they rightfully should. It should also be noted that even though this movie didn’t necessarily scare me, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredibly entertaining. Between the fantastic cast, hilarious dialogue, and refreshing re-imagining of the home invasion genre, I recommend this movie to all fans of horror and especially horror fans who like home invasion stuff. However, I’m a little nervous that the comedic moments in the film might act as a deterrent to your average theater goer, the same way a lot of non-genre fans were confused as shit by Cabin in the Woods. If people don’t get or like this movie, then fuck them, because this is a horror film made by horror fans, for horror fans, and delivers on all the promises that it has made over the past two years. You’re Next? You’re fucking great.
Wolfman Moon Scale