Now on DVD - You're Next
Released yesterday (Dec. 27th) on DVD and VOD is Adam Wingard's 2013 horror film, You're Next. I didn't have a chance to see this movie while it was in theaters, but after sitting down to watch it, it's a decision that I strongly regret. Why? Because You're Next is one of the most fun horror movies released in the last five years, and Sharni Vinson is possibly the most badass leading-female to grace the screen since Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The movie has something to offer for all fans of horror, and I wish I could have seen this on opening night in a packed theater. Alas, I had to settle for watching it solo at home, but much to my delight, it didn't matter.
The movie, written by Simon Barrett (V/H/S, V/H/S/2), starts off with a bang and rarely lets up for the next one hundred minutes. Crispian (AJ Bowen - House of the Devil, Hatchet 2) and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson - Step Up 3D) are traveling to a small family reunion to celebrate their parents thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, at their family's remote country home in Missouri. Also gathering at the vacation house are: Crispian's parents Aubrey and Paul, his brother, Drake (Joe Swanberg - V/H/S), and his wife, Kelly (Margaret Laney), his other brother, Felix, and his girlfriend Zee, and lastly his younger sister Aimee(Amy Seimetz) and her boyfriend Tariq (Ti West - The Innkeepers, House of the Devil). Amid palpable family tension, they all sit down to eat dinner together. When an argument breaks out, Tariq is suddenly hit with a crossbow bolt that comes through the window. He is killed instantly. As the family scrambles to get away from the windows, Drake is also hit in the back, but not killed.
Erin immediately begins to assemble a plan to fortify the house, but there is an argument over how the group should proceed, and in the ensuing chaos, the youngest sister tries to flee the house only to have her throat cut on razor wire hung outside the door. The killers, in one of the coolest costume choices in years, all sport animal masks: a lamb, a fox and a tiger, which is fitting for the game of cat-and-mouse that ensues for the rest of the film.
The cast handles the material well, and everyone holds their own, with strong performances by AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg. But the real star here is Sharni Vinson as Erin, who is everything you ever wanted a female lead in a horror film to be: strong, fearless, sensible, and a Dirty-Harry style badass who doesn't take shit from anyone. And she seems like she handles it all without breaking a sweat.
Adam Wingard's pacing is perfect throughout the film, he handles the many twists deftly, and makes the ending, despite being slightly predictable, work seamlessly. Though kudos should also go to the writer, for giving you the ending that you want. It might not be the most original, but not every film has to reinvent the wheel, as it were. Sometimes you can just make a movie fun as hell for everyone, and that is what the makers of You're Next did here.
You're Next worked on just about every level for me: strong characters, plenty of realistic looking gore, jump-scares, a plot that never gets overly-convoluted, and pure and simple fun. And it was a really nice surprise amidst a year of some extremely disappointing movies. My only regret is that I didn't see this film in time to add it to my Best of 2013 List. So, if you haven't had the pleasure yet, I recommend you get your hands on the DVD or VOD immediately. Cheers.
- Leo Francis