Directed by Adam Wingard. Written by Simon Barrett. Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton, Sarah Myers, Ti West, L.C. Holt, Simon Barrett, Larry Fessenden, Kate Lyn Sheil. (R, 94 mins)
More than any other film genre, horror makes its fans wade through some real shit to get to the worthy offerings. It seems like every other week, Fangoria or Dread Central are hyping some must-see game-changer that's ultimately mediocre, forgettable, and populated with the same cast of interchangeable horror-con fixtures and other perpetual C-and-D-listers. And even the next generation of so-called "great" horror filmmakers mostly seem to be people who are probably a lot of fun to watch horror movies with, but can't resist the urge to get snarky and meta with their own stuff. And God help you if you think "found footage" is the answer to the horror genre's problems. YOU'RE NEXT is finally getting national distribution nearly two years after it played the film festival circuit. It's directed by Adam Wingard, whose name is usually bandied about as one of these "future of horror" guys. He got some acclaim with his 2011 film A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE and was involved in both V/H/S anthologies as well as THE ABCs OF DEATH. YOU'RE NEXT is easily the defining statement of his career thus far, and if you've suffered through some bad horror movies in recent years, I'm here to tell you that it all pays off with YOU'RE NEXT.
RE-ANIMATOR scream queen Barbara Crampton), and they've invited their children and their significant others to a weekend gathering: oldest son Drake (Joe Swanberg) and his wife Kelly (Sarah Myers); college prof son Crispian (AJ Bowen) and his Australian grad student girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson); daughter Aimee (Amy Seimetz), and her "underground documentary filmmaker" boyfriend Tariq (Ti West); and youngest son Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and his goth girlfriend Zee (Wendy Glenn). There's hints of typical family dysfunction that explode during dinner when the abrasive, insufferable Drake (who tells Tariq he should consider "documentary commercials") keeps prodding the thin-skinned Crispian about a variety of issues (his relationship with Erin starting when he was her professor; how his round face makes him look fat, etc). The arguing temporarily ceases when one of them notices something outside the window and ends up with a crossbow arrow in their skull. Quickly realizing they're under siege by at least two or three killers wearing the same animal masks from the opening murder sequence (and one of them is already hiding in the house), the family is picked off one by one in a variety of gruesome ways, with "You're next" scrawled in blood on the wall. Luckily for the Davisons, Erin happens to have had a crazy dad who raised her in a survivalist compound in the Outback, which immediately establishes her as the most resourceful of the bunch when it comes to outwitting the killers. Using a variety of impromptu booby-traps that at times bring to mind a stalk-and-slash version of HOME ALONE, Erin proves to be more than the killers were anticipating, but that's only the beginning of the twists to come.
"Looking for the Magic"): because he's a fan first, he knows what fans want to see and hear. There's no shitty CGI here. In fact, when one person is stabbed in the eye, there's some very visible latex. Latex! In a horror movie in 2013! The only concession Wingard seems to make to modern horror from an aesthetic angle is using a lot of shaky hand-held in some sequences, but it's done in a way that's appropriate to the film and not simply shaking the camera around to make things look busy. The point is this: it's tough being a horror movie fan today. We long for things as good as the influential classics of our past (of course, everyone thinks "their" stuff was the best, just like our parents thought most of the '80s stuff was too over-the-top) and most of today's horror movies just aren't fun. There's something missing and YOU'RE NEXT is close as I've seen in a long time to getting it back. They just don't make 'em like this anymore. For once, a buzzed-about horror flick lives up to the hype, and if this came out 25 or 30 years ago, it would be a film that we're still talking about today. I'm sure there'll be no shortage of nitpicky, cynical contrarians who just can't allow themselves to enjoy the hell out of this thing that gives them exactly the kind of entertaining, old-school jolts that they want, but it's the most fun I've had with a horror movie in ages.