With the theatrical debut of the film, we’re re-posting our review from 2011.
Perhaps the most rousing screening of Fantastic Fest 2011 was You’re Next, the latest psychocharged collaboration of director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett that was snapped up by Lionsgate for distribution. I can see the urgency behind the acquisition. You’re Next is one of the best home invasion films ever made, a tight, firing-on-all-cylinders, hyper-violent and clever thriller that also simply stands as the finest horror flick of the year.
Here’s what you pretty much already know: A family reunion takes a turn for the worst when black-clad killers, armed to the teeth and wearing unsettling animal masks crash this gathering’s affluent, secluded home and begin bumping everyone off. What these invaders don’t know, is that there is an unlikely survivalist attending this party. She’s lithe. Resourceful. Australian. A serious ass-kicker. And she isn’t going down without a fight.
Gorgeously-produced on all fronts, You’re Next boasts a terrific ensemble cast. Characterizations are rich and well-realized; and that stands for those with the least amount of screen time. There are broad performances here, sure, yet they work across the board because the relationships are believable and simple. It also helps that the key leads pack a punch, like Sharni Vinson’s Erin, the film’s instantly likeable scrapper who uses everything at her disposal – be it axe, meat mallet or kitchen knife – to defend herself.
On the flipside, the killers – walking contradictions of death and innocence with their eerie masks – are an anonymous, menacing lot evoking maximum frights as they prowl the home’s hallways, storm through windows and relentless push forward in an effort to ensure their prey is killed. The downside is, on occasion, we do get to see the faces behind some of those masks, but Wingard wisely keeps a distance between his audience and the killers’ true identities. We might see their faces, and get some trivial details about them, but they’re still kept ambiguous.
In addition to being populated with terrific characters, You’re Next also moves at a breakneck speed, careening through smart twists and a bloodbath of monumental proportions. Intensity is flawlessly maintained once the “invasion” begins and the scares are ferocious. There’s a merciless nature to it all, masterfully punctuated by pitch-black comedy. The laughs are matched by the creative kills Wingard clearly had a blast orchestrating with his screenwriter. And while some of the dialogue or character backstories feel contrived, they’re just sincere enough to accept.
This is off-kilter, crowd-pleasing, lean ‘n mean horror. It’s out to kick you around the block a few times and it’s going to make sure you love every minute it.