Starring: Sharni Vinson (Step Up 3D), AJ Bowen, Rob Moran (There’s Something About Mary), Nicolas Tucci
Director: Adam Wingard (V/H/S)
Writer: Simon Barrett (V/H/S)
Runtime: 1 hour 34 minutes
Release Date: 23 August (US), 28 August (UK)
If you were to look at any of the marketing for You’re Next, it would be easy to assume that it’s just another slasher flick, providing the same scares you’ve seen over and over and over again since the 1970’s. But get past that, and You’re Next is actually a lot more than that. Do these hidden elements heighten it above its bloody brethren, or does it just make matters worse?
For the first 20-30 minutes, You’re Next does look and feel like every other cheap horror film. The set-up, the characters, the kills; its all very familiar. But once s*** starts to hit the fan, the film suddenly springs to life and not only will you forgive the clichéd first act, you’ll understand why they did it. The film is much more humorous than the advertising lets on, but wisely plays the comedy straight for full effect. I just wished there was a little more hinting of the tonal shift during those opening moments. Movies like Scream and The Cabin in the Woods set the tone immediately at the start, but still managed to keep up the suspense and mystery. But the main reason that You’re Next succeeds is that the characters, whilst not all the brightest bulbs in the box, at least feel like real people. Sure, they bicker and argue but it all feels natural and it makes sense. When bad stuff happens, they sit and talk about what they should do instead of blindly running into danger. After years of stupid, unlikable “characters” populating the horror movie landscape, it’s relieving to see a film where you rarely find yourself saying, “You f***ing idiot!” The film moves at a decent clip, and once past the opening you won’t be bored.
Acting in horror movies is rarely the most polished or well directed, and You’re Next doesn’t change the game here. Not to say that anyone is terrible; they’re all either competent or bland. Luckily, the writing and characterisation helps to make up for this. There is one exception in this though: Sharni Vinson. She may seem like your typical horror scream queen on the outside, but behind those eyes are the eyes of a badass killing machine. Her competency in fighting and survival skills not only make her stand above most female protagonists, it’s also a major plot point. Her performance in this movie stands with Ellen Ripley and Katniss Everdeen as one of the most badass females in film.
You’re Next was made on a shoestring budget, and that is plainly obvious. The cinematography is simple but effective, though I felt they too often used shallow depth of field and dodgy focus pulling; I know it’s a style, but I find it really distracting. The music is brilliantly old school, with techno beats that feel like they were pulled right of a John Carpenter film. But the best technical achievement of the film is the make-up. Sure, the wounds and blood levels are exaggerated, but they are well done regardless and enhances some of the more inventive kills of the movie.
You’re Next is just plain fun. Once it gets rolling, it doesn’t let up and will keep you engaged until the ludicrous conclusion. Though it may have lost some of its charm if it had been made by a studio, some better production values could have helped the film immensely. It may not be the best horror film of the year, but it certainly is the most enjoyable.
FINAL VERDICT: 8/10