When I wrote about The Guest, I said it was, “the kind of movie that may get criticised for being all style, no substance. But I think it’s the kind of movie where the style is the substance. It keeps so much concealed and close to the vest for so long, that when all hell breaks loose in the third act, it’s the kind of ludicrously, over the top absurdity, that it transcends that to become so much more.” As more time has passed since watching it I think all of that is an understatement. Because The Guest is a movie I find myself thinking about a lot. Enough that I had to see what else director Adam Wingard had made. Which lead me to You’re Next.
In classic horror movie tradition, the movie opens with a sex scene before the copulators are brutally murdered. Cut to sometime later when Erin (Sharni Vincon) and Crispian (AJ Bowen) are on their way to Crispian’s parents’ holiday house where Erin will meet his super rich family for the first time. Before they arrive, Crispian’s mother (Barbara Crampton) is freaked out by some strange sounds in the house. But an inspection by her husband (Rob Moran) proves that the noises were simply the kinds of dummies and fake outs used in the early scenes of most horror movies.
Soon, the rest of Crispian’s family begins to arrive. There’s brother Drake (Joe Swanberg) and his wife Kelly (Margaret Laney). Younger siblings Felix (Nicolas Tucci) and Aimee (Amy Seimetz), and their pretty anonymous partners. After some passive aggressive ribbing between various family members, things become heated over dinner once everyone is back under the same roof. But when arrows fly through windows and kill a couple of family members, it’s clear that a family spat is the least of their worries. Now, everyone in the house is being hunted.
Like The Guest, everything that works about You’re Next comes down to Adam Wingard clearly being a movie scholar. He knows his genres inside and out, what makes them work, and what can trip them up. You’re Next is the kind of movie that’s by the rules, but not by the numbers and predictable. At first, I was confused by the large number of characters who all descend on this house in the space of a scene or two. But as the movie unfolded, I realised that the onslaught of characters all at once was deliberately there to discombobulate me. That way, even when the story does faithfully stick to its genre’s rules and conventions, I was already too off guard to notice.
On top of that, You’re Next is just really brutal as well. It knows when to hold back, when a sound or small glimpse is scarier than blatant gore. But when it’s time to bring the gore, blood and guts, You’re Next makes sure you feel every bit of it.