Last year, the hilariously fright-filled The Cabin in the Woods was unleashed upon an eagerly awaiting public. This year — while it may not be that hilarious — comes You’re Next, another horror movie with a wicked sense of humor all its own. Director Adam Wingard is probably best known for having directed segments of both V/H/S films, but You’re Next is assuredly the start of an exciting studio career. Having been reviewing every entry of the Kino Lorber “Mario Bava Collection” over the past few months, it was nice to see that Bava’s spirit is alive and well. And it won’t give anything away to say that You’re Next is as close to a remake of Bava’s A Bay of Blood as we’re likely to see.
Opening in Scream fashion with a seemingly random murder, we’re introduced to Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton). They’re headed to a giant house full of windows out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by forests, for their 35th wedding anniversary. Ignoring that the front door is open, they head inside where Aubrey hears a loud thud upstairs while Paul was in the basement. Aubrey insists someone is in the house, and that’s when their son Crispian (AJ Bowen) arrives just in time to scare ol’ pops.
Crispian’s girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) has come along for the festivities and the next day they are joined by his siblings Aimee (Amy Seimetz), Drake (Joe Swanberg), and Felix (Nicholas Tucci). Their significant others are also in tow: Tariq (Ti West), Kelly (Sarah Myers), and Zee (Wendy Glenn). The family has come together to celebrate the anniversary at the old house in the hills dear daddy bought to work on as a retirement project. Soon enough, a group of malicious killers arrive and the family must band together to make it through the night.
After watching the trailer for You’re Next and after having seen the film, the same rule certainly applies here as it did with The Cabin in the Woods. The first rule about You’re Next is you don’t talk about You’re Next. Only one of the film’s big surprises is given away, but with everything that happens in that tiny two minutes, you’ll never guess which one it is. Writer Simon Barrett (also part of the V/H/S crew) certainly knows the horror genre inside out. Things are also helped about fellow horror auteur Ti West (House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, V/H/S), and genre vet Crampton (Puppet Master, From Beyond, Chopping Mall, Re-Animator). Unfortunately for her, she’s horrible. Even though she’s surrounded by characters that are pretty unlikeable, there’s no need to overact so much. Thankfully, Aubrey is quickly dispatched.
Survival is the name of the game in You’re Next and Wingard has delivered a smorgasbord of victims for the killers to pick from. Barrett has also come up with some amazing ways to kill someone, one of which is one of the most hilarious deaths I’ve seen seen outside of the Final Destination franchise. The red stuff splatters spectacularly and there are some well-deserved jump moments. As for the film being super scary, I don’t think too many people will lose that much sleep over it. When it comes to home invasion films however, it definitely goes above and beyond the super dopey The Purge. Considering You’re Next was completed two years ago, it wouldn’t surprise me if the writer of The Purge took most of his queue after seeing this at a festival. Great horror films have been few and far between this year, but You’re Next fits right alongside Evil Dead and The Conjuring as one of the year’s best horror films.