You’re Next (2013)

What’s the Opposite of Zen-like Calm?

You’re Next



Home invasion movies…they seem to be everywhere at the moment.  So this time around I thought that I’d better find out where the term came from, because for the life of me I’d swear that I had never even heard it until recently.

Well, they do say that a day when you don’t find out a new fact is a wasted day.  So colour me surprised when I discovered that the first recorded use of the term dates from February 1912, can you believe?  And that it appeared in The Washington Post.

The weird thing is that apart from the sensible United States it doesn’t seem to be classed as an actual crime.  There has to be the murder, rape and robbery that accompany it, and that’s what you get charged with.  The Law’s a funny thing, Pat.

Like I say, you live and learn.

Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that there’s no point in arguing with me on this point:  the standard by which every home invasion movie must be judged is Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 slice of Cornish Gothic, Straw Dogs.  Seriously, folks:  accept no substitutes.  Now that we’ve established that nothing will ever even come close (OK, OK; in my opinion!) I did rather enjoy last year’s The Purge.  It showed that you can do this kind of thing in a stylish and imaginative way.  And now, upping the ante even farther is Adam Wingarde’s rather marvelous You’re Next.

Crispian (A J Bowen) and his Australian girlfriend (Sharni Vinson) are heading out to his very wealthy parents for their 35th wedding anniversary and a reunion with his siblings.  And writer Simon Barrett obviously understands the dynamics of families because some of this lot can’t stand the sight of each other.  As it turns out, however, they have worse things to contend with than bad family blood as they discover that they have been targeted by three homicidal lunatics in fox, lamb and tiger masks; and even more worryingly wielding crossbows and bloody great big axes.  And it isn’t long before they really are literally bloody great big axes, because this film isn’t shy about splashing the gore around.

However, what it is, first and foremost, is damned well made.  In fact, despite the escalating bloodbath and at least three AH SHIT! moments, the most disturbing image comes when Lamb Mask sits down on a couch next to a previous kill in order to contemplate, with a kind of Zen-like calm, his latest one.  As he tilts his masked head slightly, I was reminded of a similar head movement in John Carpenter’s Halloween, a feeling that was enhanced by Mads Heldtberg’s throbbing, repetitive Carpenter-like musical score.  (Come to think of it, Halloween was another real bastard of a home invasion movie.)

The kicker here—and I only mention it because it is obvious from near to the movie’s start—is that Erin herself is a killing machine to match nearly anything that the Masks can throw at her.  And there are quite a few other twists to come.

This is a cracker of a film that is a classy addition to what appears to have become an entire sub-genre.  It is very tense and with a heroine that you genuinely want to root for.  It also—be still, my boyhood memories!—sees a welcome return to the big screen of eighties scream queen Barbara Crampton as the family matriarch.

What’s that you say?  Who is Barbara Crampton?  I’ll give you a few hints:  gorgeous; naked on a table with a severed head hanging over her; really twisted cunnilingus?

Or how about:  repressed psychiatrist; eye-popping bondage gear and a demented look on her face?

Yes indeed, I recall very clearly a double-bill of Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft adaptations Re-animator and From Beyond putting a very serious zap on my head.

Another reason to like You’re Next is that the first guy to die with a crossbow through his head is the spitting image of a neighbor of mine who’s guts I hate with a vengeance (the feeling is mutual).  When that bow went ‘twang’ I can only describe the feeling as cathartic.  Well, actually I could also describe it as orgasmic but I don’t want to give anyone the idea that I’m sick.  In fact, this is the kind of old-time splatter movie that I can imagine our less inhibited American cousins watching at Midnight Matinee’s and cheering each new imaginative kill whilst waving their copies of Fangoria in the air.  And did I mention that it is also very, very darkly funny?

Yes, from the return of Barbara to my neighbor getting his just desserts, there is a lot to recommend You’re Next.




Author: Charley Brady

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