Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You're Next is an Excellent Home Invasion Thriller: A Movie Review

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Director: Adam Wingard.

Writer: Simon Barrett.

Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg.

The horror feature You're Next was created by Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, two of the filmmakers behind V/H/S (2012) and V/H/S 2 (2013). These two filmmakers are no stranger to horror and neither are the actors. You're Next is a home invasion thriller, which hosts some mystery, not unlike Bryan Bertino's The Strangers. A family reunion is ruined and most horrorites will find You're Next an entertaining and thrilling time.

The film unravels quickly. A mother and father have invited their progeny to a country retreat. It is their 35th wedding anniversary and all of the siblings are in attendance: Felix (Nicholas Tucci), Crispian (AJ Bowen), Drake (Joe Swanberg) and Aimee (Amy Seimetz). The usual sibling rivalries unfold, but events heat up even more when three masked killers enter the mix. A large inheritance is up for grabs and their can be only one winner.

Just for fun, it was interesting to note the many familiar faces in horror attached to this piece. One of this film fan's favourite directors, Larry Fassenden (The Last Winter), is easily recognizable as one of the film's first victims. His character is in the wrong spot at the wrong time. As well Barbara Crampton (Re-animator) plays Aubrey, the film's neurotic mother. Crampton has played many different roles in horror, including an appearance in 1986's From Beyond. It was also interesting to see director Ti West (The Innkeepers) in front of the camera as Tariq, instead of behind. His character is even a filmmaker; though, his character is not as prolific as West, himself. Viewers can also spot several faces from A Horrible Way to Die (2010) and V/H/S. You're Next hosts a whose who of the horror genre.

The film, itself, unravels much like a home invasion thriller, but with a twist. You're Next most closely resembles 2008's The Strangers. The motivations of the attackers are kept in mystery in both films. Though, You're Next houses a monetary gain at the heart of the film's plot, which is revealed late in the picture. The atmosphere of You're Next is also similar to The Strangers. The villains can appear from anywhere and at anytime, which adds an unpredictable element to the film. There are also a few similarities with this title and Steven C. Miller's The Aggression Scale (2012). In both films, hired thugs are brought to an isolated home for greed. The Aggression Scale and You're Next are also very violent, which amps up the tension and later resolution. You're Next is a home invasion thriller, but this film sets itself apart from most through its quick pacing and late, surprising reveal.

There is very little which hampers enjoyment of this film. The score is moody and sometimes reminiscent of an '80s slasher. The music is mostly eerie. However, the later compositions seem unattached to the earlier, slower tempo. As well, Adam Wingard gets a little too creative with the camera, here and there. The camera is moved about and all around in early scenes, in a strange manner. Shaky cam' is the norm for horror as of late, but there is a point at which the camera work distracts from the film's evolving story. Out of focus shots which shift to in focus are also unnecessary. Directing techniques should amplify or add to the story, not distract from it. Yet, the pacing is consistently up-tempo and there are few slow spots, if any. There are lots of gory visualizations to unsettle the watcher and they serve a purpose, a bloody and self-preserving one. Much of the film is developed well, with only a few minor drawbacks taking something away from a viewing of You're Next.

This film should definitely be seen by horror and thriller film fans. This title recently released in theatres (August 23rd, 2013) and it is one of the few indie horror films which deserved a wide release. The film gives a gentle nod to other horror films and the many filmmakers in this piece will be recognized by diehard horror fans. Overall, You're Next is an entertaining time spent with one deadly Final Girl, who is still slashing late into the picture.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 (one story element is fairly predictable while another is not, a few surprises, lots of tension, a great moody atmosphere).

The film's fan page is here:

You're Next on Facebook

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