The big kill – You’re Next review

You're Next

By Simon Miraudo
August 27, 2013

The reunion of an estranged family begins with awkward, uncomfortable banter, and ends in bloodshed. For some of its members, this may come as sweet relief. Adam Wingard‘s impressive slasher flick You’re Next is almost too distressing; its success as a harrowing horror movie actually endangers our ability to enjoy it. Once the mayhem begins and the Davison clan find themselves picked off by masked assailants, we’re subjected to much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Wingard doesn’t so much linger on the murdering as he does on the mourning. It’s hard to revel in the gory pandemonium and hilarious, accidental suicides with this much primal screaming going on.

Thank goodness, then, that Sharni Vinson should emerge from the chaos and swiftly establish herself as the hero. She stars as Erin, the Australian girlfriend of a Davison boy; a take-charge kinda gal with an uncanny knack for self-preservation, busying herself by terminating the intruders with extreme prejudice. Erin is very good at killing people, and Vinson is spectacularly convincing as the down-to-Earth survivalist whose first meeting with the in-laws goes spectacularly awry. That part of the film, mercifully, is fun to watch.

You're Next

You’re Next – named after the bloody scrawl left in one of the lonely estate’s bedrooms – is comprised of Wingard’s former collaborators; a talented bunch who have helpfully honed their talents either as writers-directors themselves, or as stars of indie projects where characterisation is king. Joe Swanberg plays the eldest son, dastardly d-bag Drake; Ti West makes a brief – but memorable – appearance as the boyfriend of princess Aimee (Amy Seimetz); and A.J. Bowen takes the role of Crispin, Erin’s former professor and current lover. Familiar faces Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton play parents Paul and Aubrey, while Nicholas Tucci and Wendy Glenn round out the cast as Felix, the troubled youngest sibling, and Zee, his bad-apple girlfriend, respectively. Of course, barely any of them make it to the final credits alive.

This is not a revolutionary take on a tired series of tropes; our protagonists are still drawn to the dankest and darkest corners of the house, all on their lonesome, as if they’re hoping to be slaughtered. Screenwriter Simon Barrett is fairly unforgiving of his creations, trapping them inside a helpless situation and watching them squirm like lab rats. The feature often evokes Michael Haneke‘s Funny Games, both with its punishing content and satirising of the ‘home invasion’ genre. Yet Barrett and Wingard – who cut their teeth on numerous horror flicks prior to this – share a comic snarl that sets their project apart. That’s combined with compelling characters, genuinely chilling moments, and a number of unique crinkles (such as a brilliantly conceived booby trap – Chekhov’s Axe? – that quite literally hangs over proceedings, and the repeated use of the Dwight Tilley Band’s lost relic ‘Looking for the Magic‘), making You’re Next a damn good time at the pictures. If you’re looking for filmmakers about to blow up, big time, they’re next.

4/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews here.

You’re Next arrives in Australian cinemas August 29, 2013.

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