Cast: Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, Amy Siemetz, Lane Hughes
Running time: 94mins
The lowdown: After scoring recognition with 2010’s A Horrible Way to Die director and writer duo Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett here provide numerous horrible ways to die for a family who find themselves under siege from murderous assailants. Tense, frightening, violent and blackly funny, it is bizarre this 2011 movie has taken so long to reach cinema screens. No mind, it is one of 2013’s best horror releases – a slasher movie with brains and guts.
The full verdict: Indie horror (or “mumblegore”) alumni band together for Adam Wingard’s irresistible horrorshow, reworking tired slasher clichés into something far spicier.
Filmmaker Larry Fessenden meets a bloody end in a pre-credits jolt, while The Innkeepers and House of the Devil director Ti West later appears in a small, but memorable cameo.
Fans of these directors’ movies will get excited by You’re Next (the title being the message the killers leave smeared on the wall in blood) and will be happy to see A Horrible Way to Die cast members Bowen, Swanberg and Lane return.
But, this most recalls Marc Evans’ undervalued gem My Little Eye, which sported a similar set-up, and the same visceral punch and chilly visuals.
On their 35th wedding anniversary Paul (Moran) and Aubrey (Crampton), invite their four children to a recently bought mansion set within expansive woodland.
Dysfunctional all, the kids are failed academic Crispian (Bowen), supercilious Drake (Swanberg), wastrel Felix (Tucci) and tremulous Aimee (Seimetz). All have brought significant others, including Crispian’s student turned lover Erin (Vinson) and Felix’s eyelinered, sneering girl Zee (Glenn).
The celebratory dinner threatens to degenerate into sibling squabbling, but is interrupted by a crossbow attack on the family home that soon leaves one person dead and another with a bolt in the back.
A fight for survival is on as further bolts fly, machetes hack and cheese wire… you get the idea.
But, Erin demonstrates certain skills of her own and one long night of hell is guaranteed for the hunted and the hunters.
After the pre-credits shock, Wingard employs a slow burn, tension escalating first act, shot in muted colours and peppered with casually cruel dialogue.
When the carnage erupts, simmering dread boils over into an expertly blended mix of genuine terror and sharp humour, even if violent exits for sympathetic characters keep laughter stuck in the throat.
Home invasion classic Straw Dogs is another key text when the tables turn on the three animal masked intruders, with pleasingly wince-inducing results.
Reasons for the GBH centre on themes of privilege and entitlement, with a nice nod to class divisions included for these 1% haves times.
But, if you’re simply after a well-engineered thrill machine to provide escape from real life woes, You’re Next delivers with its smart writing, committed performances, and precision timed shocks and gags.
“He tried to kill me so I put a blender in his head” anyone?