You know how it is; you travel for miles into the American woodland with your boyfriend to see his squeaky clean, WASP family for his parent’s wedding anniversary when their mansion is assaulted mid-dinner by mask-wearing psychopaths. Now take your partner by the hand, we know the steps, doh-see-doh etc. Such is the set up for Adam Wingard’s You’re Next, but where it goes from there is a pleasant surprise. Okay, I say pleasant, but unless you find maiming and evisceration reasonable enough activities to while away a Sunday afternoon, we may have to find a different adjective. Gruesome? Yeah, let’s go with that.
As is the fare for small-budget American horrors these days, the cast is a small variety of unknowns (with a nice spot of hysteria from Barbara Crampton, of ‘Re-Animator’ and ‘From Beyond’ fame) with a central focus on Aussie actress Sharni Vinson as Erin, the outsider caught in the jets of claret coming from her boyfriend’s relatives.
But it’s not just the hapless old-money types contributing to the film’s increasingly messy blood fondue. Sharni’s Erin, in great departure from the usual terrified reactionary heroine, goes somewhere between John McClane and Arnie from ‘Predator’ in her relentless level-headed counter-attack against her assailants. To say more would give the game, the box, heck, the whole damn hobby shop away, suffice to say you’ll wince and make noises like “tsssssh” and “ffffffff” at Erin’s resistance.
As mentioned about 184 words ago this comes to us from Adam Wingard, who’s had his horror teeth cut for some time, appearing most notably in the ho-hum horror hodge-podge that was both ‘V/H/S’ films. I guess this is You’re Next’s major pratfall; Wingard knows his horror tropes, and in something that apes tradition as much as this (it even starts using a John Carpenter-esque soundtrack at one point, for heaven’s sake), it just doesn’t push the subversive envelope that far across the post office desk of convention as it could. If you’ll forgive such a stationery-heavy analogy.
At the end of the day, said in a gravelly, hard-boiled detective voice, You’re Next is a quality slice of grisly home-invasion schlock that hints at something grander and radical. Whilst where it goes is new, fresh and painful in all the right ways, it just feels like it could have pushed that little bit farther. That said, I will never look at blenders the same way again.
Running Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn
Director: Adam Wingard
Release Date: 14 January 2014