Fantastic Fest 2011 Review: You’re Next
by Britt Hayes
It’s not easy to craft a film that is both an acknowledgement and re-invigoration of a genre. You’re Next breathes fresh life into a genre that’s been dominated in recent years by foreign horror imports, with the last good American home invasion film being the eerily effective The Strangers.
When Erin (Sharni Vinson) goes home for the weekend to boyfriend Crispian’s (AJ Bowen) family house in the country for a reunion celebrating his parents’ anniversary, they become victims to brutal, mysterious, crossbow-toting masked murderers in this clever spin on the typical home invasion thriller.
You’re Next functions as part deconstruction of a familiar genre and part intense horror, providing biting moments of wit and satire, while also pummeling the audience with relentless brutality. Inventive in its use of violence, You’re Next is also shot beautifully, in hues of blue and beige, lending an air of elegance to the proceedings — thus the end result is surprisingly refined.
Co-starring Barbara Crampton, Ti West, Joe Swanberg, and Amy Seimetz, You’re Next is a fierce, fast ride that endlessly assaults the senses without relying on cheap gimmicks and overused cliches. There are few jump scares and fewer contrivances, as the film relies on its strong acting ensemble, led fearlessly by Sharni Vinson. Vinson (Step Up 3D) is the epitome of a strong female and represents a new wave of “final girl” in the genre — one who doesn’t rely on luck and circumstance to get out of a bind; instead, she relies on her smarts to outwit her would-be assassins.
You’re Next is more than just a home invasion thriller or slasher with impressive practical effects and inventive violence — Wingard and Barrett are able to straddle a fine tonal line between comedy and horror, never once veering into the cheap slapstick of the former or the gimmicky jump-scares and overplayed cliches of the latter. What they’ve created is an entirely new beast that proves you can have an adrenaline-pumping thriller that is thoughtful, biting, and severe.
Lionsgate acquired the rights to You’re Next during Fantastic Fest and have scheduled the film for a Fall 2012 release. My biggest fear is that Lionsgate won’t sell the humor of the film, which is an integral part of its success. If you market You’re Next with a modicum of intelligence and transparency, you might be shocked to find your audience is more receptive to this sort of humor — it’s not the desperate meta-wackiness of Scream or the slapstick of old Peter Jackson films; instead it’s sharp, acerbic wit that relies on the chemistry of its cast.
In a genre that seems to have lost its way amidst the steady output of remakes, sequels, and mash-ups, You’re Next is a refreshing shot of adrenaline to the chest just when we needed something to wake us all up from this comfortably numb rut.