Paul and Aubrey Davison are getting ready to celebrate the wedding anniversary and have retreated to their secluded country house. Their three sons and one daughter are also on the way there with their significant others. First to arrive is their son Crispian with his girlfriend Erin, and almost right on cue as the parents believe that someone else is in the house. After the house has been given the “all clear,” the rest of the family arrives little knowing the night of terror that awaits them from out in the woods.
That’s a loose version of the premise to You’re Next, from director Adam Wingard who’s part of a new breed of horror filmmakers that includes from the cast of You’re Next, Joe Swanberg and Ti West. Both West and Wingard have been part of the film The A, B, C’s of Death (which I still have yet to see, but will soon) and all three were part of the found footage horror anthology, V/H/S which I enjoyed a great deal. Like horror directors Rob Zombie and James Wan (who earlier this year gave us The Lords of Salem and The Conjuring respectively), these guys ear their influences on their sleeves and it’s certainly evident in You’re Next which is a nice little throwback to 80s horror and revenge films, but still feels fresh and fun (fun if you’re horror movie fan that is).
You’re Next brought to mind for me 80s slasher movies along with a little touch of Italian Giallo movies and with it’s heroine, Erin (played by Step Up 3D’s Sharni Vinson) it brought to mind for me movies like the exceptional 80s horror film, The Stepfather and the Linda Blair revenge movie, Savage Streets. This starts with a bit of a slow build, letting us get to know the Davison family and their guests a little bit before all hell breaks loose as they’re attacked from forces outside the house. Once that happens, it’s a real roller-coaster ride right up to the film’s bloody climax.
Wingard has a real nice eye for setting up his scenes and his animal mask-wearing antagonists are a nice little visual in and of themselves. Some of Wingard’s compositions bring to mind Kubrick’s work on The Shining which is also very much an influence on the whole movie. It’s all pretty nicely punctuated with a terrific score from Mads Heltberg, Jasper Justice Lee and Kyle McKinnon, that fluctuates between some violent stings to 80s type of electronic music (used particularly well during the back end of the movie).
As the terror escalates, the situations and murders get far more over-the-top and almost to the point of parody, but they felt right to me anyway. There are certainly explanations abound for why this is happening to the Davisons and why Erin is as resourceful as she is, and again, some of this will seem pretty outlandish, but it all does make sense in the end, in particular Erin’s backstory.
I really enjoyed Sharni Vinson in Step Up 3D and this is about as broad a departure from that part as it gets, but Vinson is certainly up to the task and certainly excels as the empowered heroine of the film. The rest of the cast is certainly serviceable to what’s being done here with the one standout being Joe Swanberg, the smart-ass Davison sibling who just doesn’t know when to die. I also thought it was very cool to see iconic horror actress Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond) here as Aubrey the matriarch of the Davison family.
I had a pretty darn good time with You’re Next. It’s not quite in the same league as The Conjuring (which for me anyway is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year so far), but it’s still a good time at the theatre and an even better one if you’re a fan of 70s and 80s horror movies. Some of this will certainly seem pretty outlandish at times, but in the end, it does come together and makes for a nice little horror ride.