Thursday, August 29, 2013

You're Next (2013) - A Review

Did you remember to lock the door? 

As Home Invasion Celebration Week has come to an end, I have to apologize for not getting this review up earlier. As I mentioned yesterday, I came down with a wee bit of the sickness and have been meaning to get this up but have only just found the energy and time to devote to this review. I am very excited to finally be posting this, as this film has been highly anticipated in the world of Rg Lovecraft since 2011, when it first started making its festival rounds. 

Unlike Evil Dead I had no apprehension walking into this film. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt that this film was going to deliver, and boy howdy did it ever. As entertaining and funny as it is dark and gruesome, You’re Next delivers on all fronts and has definitely made Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett a force to be reckoned with in the modern world of horror cinema.

Title: You’re Next
Director(s): Adam Wingard
Writer(s): Simon Barrett
Producer(s): Simon Barrett, Keith Calder, Kim Sherman, Jessica Wu
Starring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, A.J. Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Barbara Crampton, Rob Moran, Amy Seimetz, Ti West
Studio: Snoot Entertainment
Running Time: 95 minutes

When the Davison clan gathers together for a family reunion at the illustrious home that their wealthy parents just purchased, things couldn’t be better. It was the first time that all 4 siblings had been under the same roof in years, they were celebrating the long and happy marriage of their parents and they were all happily in love. However, when a gang of sadistic killers clad in animal masks begin to terrorize the family, the illusion of happiness quickly fades as they are taken out one by one. 

When Crispian and Erin, the first couple we are introduced to, take the reins and try to regain the families territory, we quickly learn that Erin has experience in not only defending herself but fighting back against these mysterious men. After Crispian disappears into the night to seek help, it’s up to Erin to organize a strategy and take back what’s been taken away from them before it’s too late. 

On the surface, this film seems predictable and rather cliché, but with a strong screenplay and decent twist, it takes on a whole new beast when you sit down and watch it. While the promotional materials for the film lead you to believe that it’s going to be a brutal and terrifying bloodbath, it’s quite the opposite. I found it to be a very clever, well written and entertaining thrill ride. 

One of my favorite aspects of this film is the team of people behind it. Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, A.J. Bowen, Ti West, Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg have become this sort of self contained horror machine that is all inclusive and very supportive of one another’s efforts. Bowen and Swanberg have starred in many other Wingard/Barrett efforts, including What Fun We Are Having and A Horrible Way to Die (with Amy Seimetz). You can see Amy Seimetz and Joe Swanberg in Ti West’s V/H/S contribution “Second Honeymoon”. A.J. Bowen, Seimetz and Swanberg are also starring in West’s soon to be released The Sacrament, while Bowen was also in the seminal offering from West The House of the Devil. Seimetz has also gotten in the director’s chair with films such as Sun Don’t Shine, starring Aj Bowen and Kate Lyn Sheil (she plays a small role in You’re Next), among others. The list goes on and on, head here for an in depth article on the subject.

When watching this film you can sense the connection that these people have with one another. It brings a genuine sense of familial bonds as you see the terrible things that they go through and the way that they bond and come together through all of it. Even the petty arguments that erupt in the beginning of the film seem more genuine because these people have been working together for years. 

A huge highlight for all of you fanboys out there, heaven knows I enjoyed every second of it, was the onscreen appearance of Barbara Crampton, our favorite blond haired beauty from Re-Animator. She plays the mother of the Davison clan, and I have to say, she has aged beautifully. She still carries the same beauty and innocence that she brought to Megan Halsey. Joe Swanberg was exceptional in this one, I thought. He delivered some of the funniest and most memorable parts of the film and was the perfect older-brother-douche type. Of course, the star herself was quite good. I had never seen Sharni Vinson in another flick, but I will be sure to keep an eye out for more of her work. I certainly hope that she works with Wingard and Barrett again.

Sharni’s character, Erin, was a great character overall and definitely one of the highlights of the film. I had seen it mentioned elsewhere on the internet, the general surprise that the film was not marketed with more of an emphasis on the heavy role that female empowerment plays in this film. Erin is an absolute badass in this one, and I’d have to agree with those sentiments. Erin is no scream queen, she is a cold blooded, calculated and fearless killing machine. It was nice to see that, and it reminded me heavily of Scream. Sid Prescott is one of the few other females I can think of in horror that does more than run and scream, but actually fights back. I will say though, Erin would kick Sid’s ass in a fight any day of the week.

Time for dem P’s and C’s, y’all.

1. The Script.
One of the stronger things that this film has going for it was Barrett’s ability to take a scenario that has been done countless times in the genre and turn it on its head. It felt familiar, but it still felt new. I think the use of comedy definitely helped with that. Unlike The Strangers there was no sense of dread and impending doom, it almost played more like an action movie with horror elements, which in this case was created an environment of excitement and energy. You’re sitting on the edge of your seat, not because you’re scared, but because you want to see what Erin is going to do next.
2. The Cast. I’ve seen others make remarks that they thought the acting was shotty at best, aside from Sharni Vinson. I disagree whole heartedly. With this film, I feel that the overall vibe and feel of the movie must be taken into consideration, and I think that they executed the comedic elements perfectly. One who was named in specific was Joe Swanberg, and I feel he delivered one of the stronger performances. I was genuinely upset when bad things would happen to his character, although his reactions to some of these things were pretty humorous.

1. Nicholas Tucci.
One of the few problems that I had with the film was the acting of Nicholas Tucci, who played the youngest Davison brother. Out of a strong ensemble, he was the weakest, and without spoiling anything, he should have been one of the strongest players.

I loved this film, and I definitely believe that it was worth the wait. You get a high body count (and I mean, high), tons of humor, lots of violence which all adds up to a very well rounded horror the film. I would absolutely recommend this film to any horror fan, and have even recommended it to some that generally keep away from the genre as there is little on screen violence.

- Rg Lovecraft

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