Friday Night Frights continues with its next entry. What’s next? You’re Next! No no, the movie. Not you, the reader. I dunno, now we’re all confused.
Directed by: Adam Wingard
Written by: Simon Barrett
Erin: Sharni Vinson
Felix Davison: Nicholas Tucci
Zee: Wendy Glenn
Crispian Davison: A. J. Bowen
Drake Davison: Joe Swanberg
Fox Mask: Lane Hughes
Lamb Mask: L.C. Holt
Tiger Mask: Simon Barrett
UP NEXT? YOU’RE NEXT! ALSO REUSING THAT JOKE, UNAPOLOGETICALLY
One of the fun things about the horror genre all the flavors and microgenres. You’ve got your ghost stories, your zombie apocalypses, your draculas, your frankensteins, your menacing, teen-stalking slashers, and et cetera and so on. This week’s pick is You’re Next, an independent horror film of the home invasion/slasher variety. As a general rule, slashers rarely tickle my fancy. All too often, the characters are merely different flavors of obnoxious and uninteresting. Many slasher flicks serve as little more than delivery vehicles for jump scares and over-the-top kills, adhering to a formula that drains all the tension from the film, which is a death sentence for most movies. It’s a subgenre that lends itself towards torture porn and misogyny, which are things best avoided. Thankfully, You’re Next avoids most of these issues.
Much like last week’s Bad Milo!, You’re Next inherits a good amount of DNA from the films of yesteryear (is there a modern genre more self-referential than horror?), but it synthesizes its references in much more able fashion. You’re Next blends the style and tropes of the past with modern pacing and a bracing dose of black humor, creating a movie which is sickly entertaining. Wingard is an expert at creating and sustaining tension, without resorting to cheap tricks or easy outs for the audience. Barrett’s script draws the characters in broad strokes, making them easy to grasp without resorting to clichés. The actors are able to make the best out of the one or two nuggets provided, making their inevitable deaths interesting and about as meaningful as they get in this sort of thing. Joe Swanberg, as the incredibly smarmy, mean-spirited older brother, is a particular standout in this regard. Sharni Vinson nails her role as the outsider in the familial situation, creating a compelling character from just a few details.
TWILLEY DON’T MIND
You’re Next centers around a family gathering of the Davison clan, with the four grown Davison children returning to the secluded (naturally) vacation home, romantic partners in tow, to celebrate their parents’ anniversary. The primary couple consists of the feckless Felix and his new girlfriend Erin. It is clear from the start that the siblings don’t have the most functional of relationships. But familial squabblings are the least of their concern, once an unknown party attacks with a well-placed crossbow bolt (or five), interrupting family dinner. From there, the tension ratchets up immensely, as a few animal-masked killers put the family under siege for a night of terror. You can probably guess where it goes from there. There are a few twists, which are a little too obvious, but the action moves at such a pace that a few telegraphed turns don’t hurt the film much. Incidentally, it’s clear the killers shop at the same mask store as the Wyatt Family, so that’s a plus.
BOTTOM LINE: YOU’RE NEXT SHOULD BE NEXT IN YOUR HALLOWEEN QUEUE
I dug You’re Next, plain and simple. It’s a nasty, twisted piece of work, make no mistake, but it doesn’t drown in the gore like a Saw film. With a few simple strokes, the writer, director, and cast create a relatable world which is quickly disrupted by a terrifying event. Leaven that mix with a dose of bleak, black humor, and you have a winning combination. You’re Next is a sleek, reinvigoration of the slasher format. You’re Next features fourteen bodies, eleven puncture wounds, ten massive head wounds, three instances of throat trauma, no cell phone signal, Arrow Fu, Axe Fu, Meat Tenderizer Fu, Blender Fu, and Machete Fu. All Joe Bob counts are non-comprehensive and subject to change. Check it out.