Being as big of an Adam Wingard fan as I am, I'm ashamed at how long it took me to get to the theater to see You're Next. I purposely avoided online reviews, write-ups, etc., as I wanted to go into it completely blind. All I knew was it was a home invasion flick, the killers wore badass animal masks, and one of my favorite directors was responsible for it. I've bitched and moaned several times already about how difficult it is for me to make it to a theater, so let's skip that part. Last night, after an agonizingly long wait, I got to experience one of the best films of the year on the big screen.
It's difficult to really talk about the plot without spoiling things a bit, and I try not to do that, especially with a film this good. The short, non-spoilery version is, a family is having a small reunion, some years after all the kids have gone off to college. It's apparently been a while since everyone has been back home at the same time. What starts off as a nice evening together quickly descends into madness as the house and it's inhabitants fall victim to a group of strangers wearing animal masks. The assailants get more than they bargain for though, from one of the would-be victims.
You're Next ended up being everything I wanted it to be. It had a bit of a mean streak to it, and when the shit hit the fan, the kills came often and at times were pretty brutal. It wasn't a gore-fest by any stretch of the imagination, but there was a good bit of the red stuff. Lots of cringe-worthy moments though, my favorite of which included a brand new use for a common kitchen appliance. Things were also fairly believable overall, of course you have to suspend belief some, it's a movie after all, but none of the violence made me roll my eyes.
The plot moved along at a good pace, with not much downtime in it's 96 minute run time. It also has one of those signature Adam Wingard twists to it, which ended up being one of my only minor complaints, as I was expecting a twist and when it was revealed I had a "that was it? I already figured out that" moment. It's by no means a deal breaker, but I kept expecting the "holy shit" one to come.
Performance wise, everybody was pretty on-point. You will really believe that these people are suffering a terrible tragedy. Before all that, you'll also believe that they're all family, as somebody is fighting with somebody else in almost every scene. AJ Bowen is a personal favorite of mine, and as per usual turns in a good performance as Crispian. Joe Swanberg is also good as his douchey older brother Drake. Barbara Crampton turned in a fantastic performance as Aubrey, the mother of the family. She was just fun to watch, at times humorous, and adorably overacting at others. There was also a brief appearance from another of my favorite current directors, Ti West. The real show stealer turned out to be Sharni Vinson as Erin. Her transformation from a sweet, gentle young woman to a complete and total beast of a badass was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance.
So, good story, good acting, good camera work, and gratuitous violence. The best part though? The music. Hands down. My God I don't know if I've enjoyed the music in a movie more than this in the past 10 years. It's brilliant. It matches what's happening on screen perfectly, and brought back fond memories of horror movie soundtracks from the late 70's and 80's.
Since watching for myself, I sat last night and read some of the reviews I'd been purposely avoiding, and for the most part I either agree with everyone's points, or can at least see the person's point of view, even if I don't totally agree. The one thing that I saw people giving the film the most flack for was the "shaky cam" thing. Yes, it's got the shaky cam going on, but it's nowhere near as bad as I've seen it in other films. There have been movies that use it to the point that I have a hard time telling what exactly is going on in the scene. In You're Next though, I don't remember any instances where the shaky cam obscured the action on screen.
You're Next takes the home invasion formula and injects it with a bit of a twist, though not quite the twist I was hoping for. It's beautifully violent, but still manages to evoke a laugh or two despite the carnage. While every aspect of the film was working for me, it was the music that ended up blowing me away, can't say enough good things about it. Recommended for fans of films like The Strangers, Them, or I Spit on Your Grave. Adam Wingard serves up another winner here.