After their brutally bleak A Horrible Way to Die (and contributing to anthology horrors V/H/S and The ABCs of Death), Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett change pace with this superb, blackly comic home invasion horror that piles on the blood and bickering.
Crispian (AJ Bowen) and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) are celebrating his parents’ wedding anniversary at the family country estate with his siblings Drake (Joe Swanberg), Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and Aimee (Amy Seimetz). Old grievances soon bubble to the surface but when masked killers attack during dinner, it’s kill or be killed.
While their previous film moved at a leisurely pace and dwelled on despondency, You’re Next moves quickly and goes for both the gut and the funny bone. It’s a home invasion horror that is very, very funny; a gory mumblecore mauling of recession-proof upper classes. The whining siblings consistently fail to pull together and the bodies continue to stack up.
It’s also a pleasure to see mumblecore figureheads skewer their own image, as Swanberg gleefully tells indie horror darling Ti West (playing an “underground” film director) that there’s more art to be found in commercials than the arthouse. But beyond the satire and subversion, You’re Next is simply a hugely entertaining film.
As Erin establishes herself as a force to be reckoned with, You’re Next becomes Home Alone with a body count. Wingard has a firm grip on the material and is comfortable shifting tones, allowing the strong cast to play up the dark comedy and Wingard himself to pay homage to everything from John Carpenter and Wes Craven to Chris Columbus.
The cast of Wingard regulars are superb. While most will be unknown to mainstream audiences, it’s tremendous fun to watch this group of frequent collaborators bounce off each other. Bowen (The House of the Devil, The Signal) delivers another magnetic performance as the delicate Crispian, Swanberg (V/H/S) is hilarious as the overbearing Drake, and Vinson (Bait) is particularly good as the resourceful and determined Erin. It’s also great to see Re-Animator‘s Barbara Crampton as the fragile matriarch.
Films that successfully balance scares and laughs don’t come around very often. Wonderfully vicious and savagely funny; You’re Next is a thrilling piece of genre entertainment and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.