I was fortunate enough to attend Geekadelphia’s advance screening of Adam Wingard’s latest horror effort, You’re Next. The film follows the Davison family as they celebrate the wedding anniversary of the parents. When a group of killers show up to terrorize the family, it’s up to one of the guests to save the day with her sharpened survivalist skills, and secrets about family members are soon revealed.
You’re Next has a lot going for it. The cast is made up mostly of filmmakers that have worked together before, and they play off each other nicely. Ti West and Joe Swanberg are especially amusing as an aspiring filmmaker and a frat boy type, respectively. When the violence begins, it starts with great intensity and grows naturally out of the dinner table tension between the family members. This is undoubtedly a body count film, in the tradition of Friday the 13th, but with added complexity. These characters have motivation beyond being helpless victims of a revenge-driven mutant in the woods.
The film works because the fun that the filmmakers were clearly having during the production shows through and through. The sense of peril and scenes of graphic violence that are staples of home invasion movies are there, but Wingard and writer Simon Barrett inject a sense of humor that is sorely missing from other films of its type. What emerges is a sense of humanism, even as people are killed in increasingly creative ways.
There are a few missteps. In particular, much of the later second act drags and seems redundant as characters wander around the house looking for ways out. After such a punchy first half, this may have been an attempt to pace the film, but since the plot isn’t particularly meaty, it would’ve been better to keep things moving right along.
The stretch mentioned above is quickly made up for with a third act that reminds me a lot of classical body count movies like A Bay of Blood and Intruder with multiple betrayals and misunderstandings coming to light. By the time the credits roll, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction. This film is last in a long tradition, but rather than simply be a wink-at-the-camera-fest or a retread of well-worn ground, it improves on what has come before it and in many senses stands out as one of the best of its kind.
You’re Next is now playing in Philly area theaters.