VOD film review: You’re Next
Ian Loring | On 11, Jan 2014
Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Nicholas Tucci
The tale of You’re Next’s release history is one which strikes many familiar chords with Drew Goddard’s recent cult classic Cabin In The Woods: both had people raving about them pre-release only to be delayed due to studio interference and released to limited commercial success. While the similarity ends pretty much there, they both show that despite the wealth of toxic crap which horror fans have to endure year upon year, the diamonds in the rough shine very brightly indeed.
Utilising a cast and crew who have a habit of getting involved in other people’s projects – filmmakers Ti West and Joe Swanberg appear (the latter in a major role) – director Adam Wingard builds on a promising reputation with this tale of a family being offed, one by one, by mysterious masked men. With his regular partner, writer Simon Barrett, Wingard tells a smart tale, which starts us off on familiar ground but quickly diverts from the expected to mix a great many horror tropes, with elements pre-dominantly from home invasion thrillers like The Strangers, into something electrifyingly new.
Much of this success is down to lead and “final” girl Sharni Vinson, a Home & Away veteran who manages to convince as both utterly adorable and also ruthlessly smart when it comes to dispatching those coming to harm her. There’s a real conviction to her performance here, which, when mixed with more emotionally-charged plotting than one comes to expect, makes for a role that feels like it will be remembered for a long time to come. The rest of the cast are all solid enough (seeing Swanberg’s character get increasingly more useless as the story goes on is a joy), but this certainly is her film.
Wingard also crafts a unique atmosphere, where tone can vary within the same scene, none more so than at the climax of the film, yet still feels appropriate throughout. The director leaves the more straight-up shocks for the first half of the film before amping up the juicy vengeance kills in the second, while Mads Heldtberg’s score gets less and less subtle (but more ass-kicking) as the bodies pile up, with a pulsing synth whipping up the energy nicely.
Although You’re Next isn’t a real full-blooded scary time throughout, this doesn’t appear to be the filmmakers’ aim at all: instead, they use a host of trends with the kind of careful quality the genre could see more of. The introduction of the film feels a little out-of-place, dipping its toe into a slightly sleazier mood. For the rest of the runtime, though, this is a breath of fresh air, offering a bloody, fun and well-made time.