Director Adam Wingard is no stranger to horror: he previously directed segments in the low budget features V/H/S and The ABC’s of Death. Even though they were short films, his work showed promise, and You’re Next confirms that he has a knack for the genre. While it’s far from anything remotely original, it’s a success due to its likeable (albeit generic) characters, genuinely creepy masks and its wickedly gory deaths.
As previously mentioned, each family member (and their partners) don’t come across as disposable as you’d expect from a horror; but that doesn’t mean it’s a shame when they eventually bite the dust. The ‘dysfunctional family’ angle works brilliantly from the start, and the warring brothers occasionally deliver great comedy in their dialogue. The star here though is undoubtedly Erin (Sharni Vinson), as it becomes clear that when the killings start, this isn’t her first rodeo. Exhibiting imaginative survival methods and concocting the films most gruesome and stomach churning death, Erin is one of the best female heroes in modern horror.
You’re Next masks its unoriginal story with countless red herrings as to why the masked attackers have targeted the family, with at least 3 different motives given. When the real reason is revealed, it’s slightly disappointing, but can be forgiven due to scriptwriter Simon Barrett’s attempt to throw the audience off the scent. Keeping with his script, the majority of the scares are of the cheap variety; cranked up noises after a quiet pause, people showing up behind a door when they weren’t there before, and so on. The horror here is found in its explicit gore, and it proudly earns its 18 age rating with its wide array of killing methods.
Another positive is that the bad guys are exactly that: human. There’s no hell-dwelling monster here, only good old fashioned bad intentions. A point that could have been expanded on but was only lightly touched is just how human they are – there’s a scene that brings emotion out in the villains, and it’s a side of the story that’s not usually told in this genre.
With a cast led by a hardcore female survivalist and some teeth-grindingly violent deaths, You’re Next is a great throwback to slashers of yesteryear.