While some of you only became familiar with You’re Next a few weeks ago after Lionsgate’s (quite clever) marketing blitz launched, many of you have been hearing about it for years. Literally. Ever since it premiered at TIFF in 2011 and was snatched up in a bidding war there probably hasn’t been a month that’s passed where you haven’t read something about the film.
Am I guilty of this? Absolutely. I first saw the film in November of 2011 and I haven’t stopped banging the drum since. There’s a reason for this: You’re Next is my favorite horror film in years. No qualifiers needed. So while I acknowledge the perception many of you have that some “overhyping” has gone on, the truth is that this is a special movie that I (and many of my peers) felt like throwing a lot of energy into supporting simply because I know you’ll love it. You’re Next, while gory and smart, is also a “mainstream” effort in the best sense of the word – I can see it pleasing millions of people without talking down to them.
Head below for 5 Reasons You’re Next Isn’t Your Typical Home Invasion Movie!! The film hits theaters on Friday, August 23rd (and will be playing a lot of midnight shows on the 22nd)!
Most home invasion films are dour, brutal affairs where ugliness and violation reign supreme. You’re Next is certainly brutal, but one of the first things you’ll notice about the film is the active love it has for its audience, rather than the causal contempt a lot of filmmakers and studios serve up these days.
Structurally speaking, it’s a pure home invasion movie that thoroughly explores all of the options that its sub-genre provides. But tonally it feels much more like a traditional slasher in all the best ways. With over a dozen kills it easily exceeds the norm for a typical home invasion film and the creativity behind many of them definitely harkens back to a period when people were more interested in thrills than immature “hardcore” one-upmanship.
It’s also funny. While You’re Next is a pure horror film (not a horror-comedy) it does wring laughs organically out of the intensity of the situation the characters find themselves in.
You’re Next manages to feature an impressive cast playing nuanced characters without coming across as self-satisfied or beating you over the head about it. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett populate the house with people you recognize from your own life. While I would like to believe there are some fundamental differences between my own family and The Davisons, this is the first horror film in ages where I see family dynamics I’ve experienced in real life successfully and tangibly replicated here.
Many films paint families in hugely broad strokes – “here’s the troubled son, here’s the spoiled daughter, here’s the aloof father.” While You’re Next certainly plays with those archetypes, it has the sense to realize that a good character has more than one defining characteristic. These just feel like real people. Not in a mumblecore way, not in a Kenneth Lonergan Margaret way (after all the film has to spend more time killing these people than exploring them) – but in just the right way for a slasher movie.
IT’S THE ORIGINAL HORROR YOU’VE BEEN ASKING FOR
Whenever we do a story about a remake or sequel on the site we invariably get the comment, “ugh. Why don’t they make something original? Is Hollywood all out of ideas?” You’re Next is one of the better answers to that. I can’t pretend it’s the only original horror film coming out this year, it’s not. But there’s an exciting energy here because of the way in which it’s positioned, “what if a GOOD horror movie actually does well?”
People love to talk about “envelope pushing” as a means to expand the reach and relevancy of the genre. The envelope You’re Next pushes is simply marked “good.” No one involved settled for something they themselves wouldn’t want to pay to see, and to me that’s where the true difference lies. That’s the reason you’ve been hearing about it for two years. It’s also the reason that, if you’re sick of all the jabbering about the film, you’ll feel completely refreshed once you actually start watching it.
LOOKING FOR THE MAGIC
I’m not just referring to the song you’ll immediately download after leaving the theater, I’m talking about the little things that make You’re Next sing in other ways. The iconic animal masks. Joe Swanberg at the dinner table. The way the score switches gears in the film’s second half to simultaneously echo Wang Chung and John Carpenter. The way Barbara Crampton and Rob Moran masterfully sell their grief on the fly. Sharni Vinson saying, “no, he’s not” when someone mentions that her boyfriend is a strong guy. There’s a thousand tiny moments that make the film special, moments that would have been vacuumed out of a typical studio project.
I have seen You’re Next five f*cking times. Admittedly, I attended screenings 4 and 5 so I could show the movie to people who had been begging me to see it (my cousin and a friend who I had been “overhyping” the movie to for years – both loved it) but I never grow tired of watching it. Right before I saw it again at SXSW I was actually kind of nervous and began steeling myself, “is this going to be the time when I realize the movie actually sucks?” Nope. Not only was it just as good as I remembered but it played incredibly well with an audience. Same thing goes for the Comic-Con screening I attended.
When the movie comes out on Blu-ray it will be on an easy-to-reach spot on my shelf and I anticipate revisiting it as often as I revisit my favorite horror films. Why? Because it’s one of them.
Now do me a favor and watch it on Friday.