A family reunion in an isolated house goes to the shitter. Not because of the family's bickering but due to a group of masked men, armed with crossbows and axes crashing the party. Yeehaw! I wish my family "get-togethers" were THIS eventful!!!
Adam Wingard’s YOU'RE NEXT
had been ducking me. Every time an early screening of it surfaced in my bubble of a world, I was either out of town or just couldn’t go for reasons that shall remain nameless. Well today, I finally got to wrangle the animal and after all the hype that’s been tagged to its ass, with even my second in command on the site sucking its bleep
like “beef-jerkey” was going out of style, I expected nothing less than top notch stuff! So did I get it?
I hate to knock Mr. Studio over here, but you know me I say it how it is (which may explain a few things), Lionsgate dropped the ball with this one. The film was acquired by them after its 2011 screening at TIFF as part of the Midnight Madness section. People LOVED IT! So what did they do? Kept it on the shelves for two years. Why? We’ll never know. But now they finally release it and they chose f*cking August as the ideal time to do so? The month peeps go back to school? Halloween is just around the corner guys! If there was one movie that would have killed it around that time, it would have been this bad boy! Come on! Anyways, I’m going to bat for YOU'RE NEXT, cause it’s a tense, rollicking (whatever the f*ck that means) good times at the slaughterhouse and it should have gotten the royal treatment. I hope it gets the box office returns it deserves! We'll see...
The basic story structure of YOU’RE NEXT was nothing I hadn’t seen before. THE STRANGERS, KIDNAPPED (my personal favorite in terms of the subgenre), THEM and to some degree INSIDE, yeah it’s a home invasion movie. Set up folks in a house, a threat kicks in and a game of survival ensues. One or more survive... or they all die - roll credits. But the way in which Wingard handled the material made all the difference to me. YOU’RE NEXT laid its groundwork, introduced us to its cattle and then didn’t waste any time in getting the gore party started. I relished the high octane energy behind the film, and Wingard’s visual style totally wooed me! It was in your face, often intimate, slapping me right there, smack in the middle of the mayhem, up close and personal. Suspense was cranked up to high as well, eerie shots were frequent and the random bits of slow motion that whooped in gave varied moments mucho impact. I was actually breaking down Wingard's shots as I was watching the movie, taking in his angles (why, cause I’m that guy), watching as if I was an editor if you will, and I relished how he often boldly went outside the norm. Think mainstream meets arthouse. Kudos! That jive made the film feel fresh, even though the basic premise had been done to death!
Then we had the eclectic/talented cast kicking in which was affable and often a source of circumstantial humor (along with the bang-on dialogue by screenwriter Simon Barrett). They're a family, they have issues with each other and when the shite hit the shite, the animosity was still there. That resulted in a cool mix of feelings: me chuckling while being on the edge of my seat at the same time, because I had no idea who was gonna check out next! Quite the juggling act and they pulled it off. Out of the cast, the great AJ Bowen once again stood out via his natural display. The dude always manages to be likeable even when playing a douche. There’s a reason my bud and I named a sandwich after him (after watching A Horrible Way to Die, long story…), I hope this boosts his career further! The lad has skills and deserves it! And as a long time horror fan, it was a treat to witness veteran Scream Queen Barbara Crampton back in action! I’m sure I’m not alone in having had a ridiculous crush on her as a teenager by way of her roles in Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak and the list goes on.
Even though she hadn’t acted in a while Crampton didn’t lose her magnetism, acting chops and sex appeal. Loved her! Joe Swanberg was the tits too as the smug brother, but at the end of the evisceration it was Sharni Vinson that stole the show. I had never heard of the lass before (she was in one of them Step Up movies) but I know of her now. The camera was in lust with her, the Ozzie accent added to her charm and seeing her brutally go “Rambette” on the baddies was hotter and more fulfilling than lesbian porn! She had countless levels to hit with this role and she nailed them all with gusto. One of the best "Final Girl" roles in ages! Props! I can just imagine how physically exhausting that part must have been! Girl was put through the ringer and then some!
Add to all that quality; a simple score that worked in giving me the willies (and that eventually went full on 80’s synthesizer on my ass – respect), a handful of gnarly surprises, crazy/novel kills and moments of graphic/extreme gore that will have you stab the person next to you with joy, to then bathe in their blood Bathory style and you get a well rounded, efficient and just f*cking fun horror film! Any drawbacks? Some. The familiarity of the premise aside, some of the lesser family members could have benefited from further development so I could've given a shit about them and remembered who they were. Was that a sister or a girlfriend? Forgot. Moreover, I called out one “twist" early on and it sucked that I was right about it. It was too obvious and easy. I wish they would have gone against the usual grain to sucker punch me with that one. They didn’t. Finally, there was maybe a pinch too much stalk and hide during the last act, nothing to jump off a bridge about, I’m kind of nitpicking with that one, but I felt it, so I say it.
Overall though, YOU’RE NEXT was a delight from beginning to end. And when I say ‘delight” I mean fast, brutal, mean spirited, grisly, tension laced, sometimes funny and just an overall blast! Yeah that kind of delight! YOU’RE NEXT wants to make you its next victim! I recommend you accept that invitation and die a good death!
Yup, there was a f*cload of gore red stuff here! I don't want to spoil too much but will say: stabbings, fun with axes, fun with kitchen appliances, arrow damage (oh yeah), some head bashings... I will stop there. Enjoy!
We get one pair of titties early on and some bra/undies fun down the road.
YOU'RE NEXT was quite the horror party! An ideal film to see with your buds and a couple of brews in ya! I am elated that it lived up to its hype! Clipped pace, tense as hell and with a visual style that took chances and stimulated my retinas! We also get creative and messy kills, some laughs and a cast that I warmed up to right way! If she plays her cards right Sharni Vinson could be the next big Scream Queen! And it was so slick to see Barbara Crampton on the big screen again! Yeah the film's main twist was too ses-through, some of the smaller roles were too underplayed and there was a bit of repetition in the last act, but that's chump change in contrast to all the macabre goodies I got out of this one! Why YOU'RE NEXT wasn't released on Halloween baffles me! You're sick of remakes and of PussyG-13 horror? Well put your money where your mouth is and go see it this weekend! It makes dough, we get more!
Sharni Vinson was born on July 22nd 1983 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Joe Swanberg is also a director. He,s behind the just released Drinking Buddies (2013).