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New Release Review - You're Next

A family get-together is interrupted by murderous masked assailants.


Directed by: Adam Wingard
Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Wendy Glenn, Ti West, Barbara Crampton, Nicjolas Tucci


Crispian (Bowen) takes his new girlfriend Erin (Vinson) to meet his family for a get together at his parents' secluded rural retreat. When the rest of the family members arrive with their various other halves, the usual bickering expected from such a gathering occurs but an argumentative dinner is interrupted when a group of masked men begin firing crossbow bolts through the windows. With the family members roundly panicking, Erin takes control of the situation with an unexpected and comprehensive knowledge of home defense methods, taking the fight back to the attackers.
Following the bloody footprints of 'Paranormal Activity' and 'Cabin in the Woods', Adam Wingard's 'You're Next' is the latest horror movie to receive a belated release after gathering dust on the shelf for a number of years. The film premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival yet is only now hitting theaters.
It's been a bad few years for horror, with the few genre movies that aren't remakes coming off as either overly earnest or crassly mocking in tone. Wingard's film is, thankfully, neither. 'You're Next' has a black sense of humor but, unlike many of his genre peers, Wingard prefers to attempt making a worthwhile contribution to the horror pantheon, rather than just taking cheap shots at it. There's a refreshing lack of postmodern rib-poking on display. While there are several laughs to be had, they're a byproduct of our familiarity with the genre; there's no sense that smart-ass mockery is the film-maker's main intention. The cliches of the genre are on display but Wingard, and his screenwriter Simon Barrett, use their awareness of these cliches to give us a movie that feels closer to a lost eighties horror than merely a parody of such.
There's really nothing exceptional or ground breaking about 'You're Next' but this in itself makes it stand out. Too many film-makers today look down on the horror genre and get so caught up in trying to create clever genre deconstructions that they overlook what makes a horror movie work. Wingard employs a minimalist approach and keeps things simple. He's got a feisty heroine (Erin, the Aussie outsider evokes Ben, the African-American hero of 'Night of the Living Dead', in more ways than one), iconic villains (I can't believe nobody thought to have their killers wear animal masks before), and a plot that, while containing its share of twists and turns, never gets complicated enough to slow down proceedings.
There's nothing in 'You're Next' that's likely to stick in your memory for too long after but, for 90 minutes, it's a fun reminder of a time when horror films were content to entertain and, given the current state of the genre, will probably top most end of year horror lists.
7/10


Eric Hillis

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