With The Guest currently in cinemas wowing crowds (Seriously, it’s a lot of fun), it’s time to look at the previous movie from the Director/Writer duo of Adam Wingard and Simon Barret.
An estranged family meet for a weekend in the country at their secluded house. Thanks to a prologue we see the neighbours in the next house were brutally murdered, with the message You’re Next (Hey that’s the name of the movie!) scrawled on the wall – in blood of course.
The family, The Davisons, are clearly at ends with one another, with barely contained pettiness coming to the forefront during an evening meal. A meal in which horror Director Ti West (The House Of The Devil, The Innkeepers) gets an arrow through the neck, setting off the proceedings. From there it’s a routine siege movie, calling to mind Assault on Precinct 13 or Night Of The Living Dead.
The best way to describe You’re Next is that it’s The Strangers but with humour. In both, a family is stalked in their own home by masked invaders. Unlike that movie though, You’re Next mainly plays the violence off with a good dose of humour. It still maximises the creepiness when it can though (There’s something that’s always going to be creepy about people wearing masks).
At its heart, You’re Next is a black comedy for most of its running time, before becoming a subversion of the genre. It’s a brisk, brutal, fun bit of entertainment. Recommended.
Ok so that’s my quick look over with, the meat of the discussion is below, so if you don’t care about a whole bunch of spoilers then read on. Ready?
HERE BE SPOILERS.
Ok so the movie quickly establishes Erin as our survivor. Genre conventions says there has to be a final girl after all. Erin doesn’t panic. She’s quickly reactive when things start to hit the fan and can keep a calm head even when everyone else is losing theirs. In fact the movie makes it clear that she’s a very capable survivor, more than that is that though is that she’s a very capable woman.
The last act features a neat twist in which Erin turns the tables on her attackers, and they find her arguably more vicious than they ever were, even killing one with a blender. What eventually happens is that it becomes a meta-commentary on slasher movies. Erin was supposed to be the final girl, because that’s the way that these things work. Their whole plot hinges on watching too many horror movies. It’s clear that Barrett and Wingard have read Carol Clover’s Sex, Women and Chainsaws. It manages to add a little depth to what could otherwise be a rote ride, and is, in its own subdued way, as subversive and knowledgeable about genre cliches as The Cabin In The Woods.