You’re Next (2013)

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It’s always funny when you consider studios are spending millions on remaking slasher films, when people like Adam Wingard are literally re-inventing the slasher film. And making it look damn easy, too. Director Adam Wingard’s “You’re Next” is a sick, scary, and exciting amalgam of “Fortress,” and “Straw Dogs,” with a hint of Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game.” It’s clear director Wingard is heavily influenced by late seventies and eighties survival horror films, and he shows off his innate talent for style and suspense with one of the most entertaining horror films of the year.

AJ Bowen plays Crispian, the black sheep of his large wealthy family, who has decided to re-unite with his estranged clan for a reunion. And a very uneasy one. As they meet, the night progresses in to an onslaught of angry stares, passive aggression, and confrontations among brothers. Just their luck, their next door neighbor was brutally murdered the night before by three killers in animal masks. And now they’re about to interrupt the family reunion. Scrawling the ominous message “You’re Next” on walls, the family soon realizes they’re in an all out attack by the masked killers hiding in the darkness, and storming their house.

Little do the maniacs know that Crispian’s new girlfriend Erin is not the kind of woman to run and hide. She’s actually very anxious to face off with the masked murderers, and begins giving them pure hell in the form of physical combat, booby traps, and defensive rage. Before long the masked killers are scrambling to work around their new nemesis and she’s not going down so easily. “You’re Next” works as a black comedy and a brutally excellent twist on the house under siege horror tale. There’s a twist to almost every plot element in the film, and yet the movie is very straight forward. Director Wingard doesn’t pretend to be smarter than his audience, and provides a hell of a clever and fantastic horror survival ride that manages to create a new horror heroine.

Star Sharni Vinson is fantastic in the role of Erin, who does very little crying and running, and a lot of pure ass kicking. Even when people are devising plans to escape, she’s in the corner looking for a way to wait out the masked killers, and look for new methods to make their invasion so much more difficult. Vinson’s casting is brilliant, as her character Erin is established as passive, bubbly, and very attractive, but shocks even the people she’s helping once she snaps in to action and battles the killers. When the twist in the central plot presents itself, it not only catches the audience off guard, but Erin has to bounce back and begin re-thinking her entire survival strategy.

“You’re Next” is a very traditional house under siege horror film, with our killers hiding in the shadows trying to break in while the victims look for routes of escape. Director Wingard embraces the simplicity of the formula with direction that lends atmosphere and terror to the maniacs, along with a superb score reminiscent of late seventies cinema. There’s also some wonderful bits of brutal violence and gore, most of which really lends a debt to “Straw Dogs.” To add to the fun, fellow directors Ti West, Simon Barrett, Joe Swanberg, and Larry Fessenden have key roles, along with the great Barbara Crampton. “You’re Next” is really the surprise of 2013, a bad ass, bitching slasher film, and an excellent survival horror thriller you can double down with “Fortress,” and call it a day.