Hype can be an extremely dangerous thing- especially in the case of movies making their debuts at film festivals. More often than not so much time passes from the premiere of the movie at a festival to its actual release either on VOD or in theaters that people like me that read the reviews and reactions either on Twitter or otherwise the buzz reaches astronomical levels. The dangerous part being that one’s mind builds the movie up with unrealistic expectations molded by people that might not have the same tastes in movies or are riding a high from being able to see something before anyone else.
You get enough people throwing around words like brilliant or masterful enough other people start building a mental picture of what could make the movie deserve those types of praise. I know I’ve fallen prey to it before and I’m always cautious to let it happen each time since. So when Lionsgate snatched up YOU’RE NEXT after just one screening at the Toronto International Film Festival then held on to it for the next two years minus a few other festival appearances the hype had already leaked into my subconscious. Nary a bad word found my eyes or ears when I saw reactions for it and avoided any full reviews.
Two years later as I sat watching it, the hype fighting its way to the forefront of my mind and it nearly destroyed my opinion of the first half of the film. I became aware that I may be under the influence of two years of other people talking it up, so I wiped the slate clean for the remainder of the film. I also normally get on to start writing a review as quickly as I possibly can and this time around I let a couple days pass before I even considered talking about it so I can let it sink into my brain a little more.
All that being said, I absolutely love YOU’RE NEXT. The film doesn’t really have an original bone in it’s body, but it is fantastic at what it does. It follows a dysfunctional family that gets together in a remote mansion for their parent’s wedding anniversary and just as they begin to air all their grievances with one another they are viciously attacked by a trio of killers dawning animal masks. That’s the rundown pretty plain and simple- however there are a slew of surprises along the way that make it an entry into the genre that also has fun with it at the same time.
Adam Wingard directs a script written by Simon Barrett- the duo that also brought us A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (a film I also loved) as well as segments of V/H/S and V/H/S/2. Wingard and Barrett together bring a fresh perspective on horror and all of its cliches, but with YOU’RE NEXT they manage to subvert what you would normally expect from a genre film such as it is. Even when the film falls victim to some of the more eye rolling aspects of horror it does it in a way that is fun and wholly satisfying.
It is important to say that while the film does get into some very brutal territory, the first half is actually pretty slow. The pace of the first act is part of why I felt that maybe I was a little overhyped for what I was actually in store for, but once the blood does start flowing things don’t ever stop from there.
YOU’RE NEXT opens with a scene reminicent of SCREAM and that was one of the first moments I knew what I was in for, but I was excited about it. Few times can I see multiple paths for which a film can end and still be surprised when one or two of those paths end up to be true- but YOU’RE NEXT almost doesn’t even try to hide it. Kills are set up in previous scenes and you can see the callback coming a mile away, but the payoff is so fantastic I didn’t care. The script is smart enough and fun enough to make a twist not be groan inducing, but actually kind of hilarious and interesting.
I don’t know that I would call the acting in the film “great” but a few of the performances could easily fit the bill. Sharni Vinson is easily the standout and not only because she delivers one of the best lines in the film towards the end, but she dominates every scene she’s in. AJ Bowen really impressed me with his turn in A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, but doesn’t quite shine as much here- although kudos on being one of the key pieces in the incredibly awkward dinner scene.
YOU’RE NEXT certainly does not earn its keep by being original, but writing it off for that reason is equally as lazy. What the film lacks in originality it makes up for in spirit and love for the genre- a couple of pretty unique kills along the way don’t hurt either. YOU’RE NEXT is funny without being cheesy, predictable and somehow still surprising and brutal while still being fun- if you ask me that is a winning combination if I ever saw one as a horror fan.
Written by: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)