You’re Next presents a fairly standard murder mystery. An estranged, slightly disgruntled family meets at a lovely house to celebrate a wedding anniversary and before they know it, the first guest is assassinated during dinner.
What starts as a film that seems to be wanting to follow similar horror footsteps, stops winking towards the camera once the kills commence. It plays each trope with a straight face and sticks to a formula, but it quits leaning on past influences.
For a while, it’s a straightforward horror – which is, actually, ok. It doesn’t bother convoluting itself in backstory, but gives just enough time to acquaint each family member so they have their own personality. These characters aren’t just sitting ducks. They’re people who are not afraid to voice to each other how fed up they are.
The brothers have an especially amusing argument during an early raid of anonymous crossbow attacks on the house. This dialogue doesn’t feel like it’s here to provide necessary comic relief. It feels like this is how these vain characters would react – even when the conditions are filled with extreme danger.
Adam Wingard’s fright fest is aware of itself, has a good sense of humour, and isn’t smug about any of it. He shows a true understanding of the genre and knows what movie goers want without making anything too obvious.
There’s a twist to the senseless killing in You’re Next that, honestly, I wasn’t a fan of when Simon Barrett’s screenplay first proposed it. It’s a turn of events that never sits well with me no matter how desperate anyone is and there’s not enough motivation behind the sinister choice to make me a believer.
That said, what’s very impressive about You’re Next is its ability to take lemons and turn them into lemonade. If the film makes a peculiar decision, it rolls with it and ends up benefiting from its dedication. It’s partly because of the film’s high energy, but also because of Wingard’s likeable and consistent attitude to entertain.
You’re Next makes a shift from horror to suspense thriller as the number of survivors dwindles and the film gets heavy on its synthesized score. The villains are recognized, thankfully making the baddies into people who are just as human as their prey and not into unstoppable, mean spirited forces. The traps that are set for the vandals are fuelled by barrels of anticipation and usually follow up with bloody enjoyable endgames. Some of the contraptions feel like they belong in an R-rated Home Alone, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t having fun watching everything play out.
It’s nice to see an original thrilling horror like You’re Next accomplish as much as it does. And when it pulls a move that doesn’t mesh as well as the others, it justifies it nicely. It may be full of blood and expletives, but if someone was looking for a good edge-of-your-seat Friday night recommendation, I would have no problem mentioning Wingard’s film.