Thursday, October 6, 2016

31 Days of Horror: YOU'RE NEXT (2011)

Welcome, horror fans, to Day 6 of the 31 DAYS OF HORROR!  We are back with another film in our lead up to Halloween, and today we will be reviewing a great, current day slasher flick...YOU'RE NEXT.  Enjoy!


This is a film that really surprised me when I first saw it.  I missed it while it was in theaters, but had seen all the marketing for it and had heard good things, so my expectations were a bit high.  Luckily, it was totally able to live up to those expectations, and some.  Director Adam Wingard (Blair Witch) does a fantastic job of keeping me locked on to the screen through out the film.

You're Next takes a fairly simple, yet proven, horror premise -- the home invasion -- and turns it on its head with some fantastic imagery, great shot composition, and a surprisingly strong female lead who breaks all of the typical stereotypes in the best of ways.  Erin (played by Sharni Vinson) has become one of my favorite female characters in a horror movie, due to her incredible strength and ingenuity.  Right away, after the mayhem begins, you get the sense that she may possibly have some previous experience dealing with situations like this.  But what you eventually discover is that she was actually raised by a group of survivalists, which is a great character twist that I didn't see coming.  

The film starts off with a typical horror trope -- the intro kill -- complete with horror staples such as gratuitous sex and nudity.  This sets the pace and tone for what's to come, and eventually serves as a plot devise to move the story in a certain way.  At first I wondered if the scene was actually necessary, as it seemed to not serve the story in any significant way.  However, it is later revealed that this murder is an integral part of the killers' plan, so as not to make it look like this one specific family was targeted, and instead were victims of a group of psychos passing through their area.

We get a sense of who each of these characters are right off the bat, seeing how quickly family ties can break down.  A big, verbal argument between two of the brothers, Crispian and Drake (played Ed by AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg) helps build so much tension that when the first "family kill" occurs, it completely takes you by surprise.  You know something bad is about to happen, just from the way things are set up, but when it happens, the fight is still going on, causing the audience to wondering "what the f**k just happened!?"  Once everyone else realizes what has happened, all hell breaks loose.  This is actually one of the few times where I think the use of "shaky cam" was used perfectly to enhance the tension.

Outside of the opening sequence, where we get our very first glimpse of one of the killers, it takes another 30 minutes before we see one of them again.  We know that they're there, inside the house, but we don't see them until after the first "family kill".  Then another almost 30 minutes goes by before we discover the true motives for the events taking place.

One of my favorite things about this film is the very minimalist score, which works well for building tension when needed. The score gets under your skin fast, with an ambient eerieness that causes maximum discomfort with minimum effort.  But my absolute favorite thing is the main character, Erin.  Now, I know I talked a bit about her at the beginning of this review, but I felt like she deserved a bit more.  When I said she was a strong female character, I meant it.  Several horror films include a female protagonist that survives the slaughter, and in some cases, even kills the villain herself (Scream and Halloween come to mind), but in most of these cases, that character acts as a scared victim for a large portion of the film.  Erin, however, never once acted like a typical "scared little girl", and instead took charge of the situation, dispatching one of the killers right away with an intense ferocity.  She jumps out of a second story window with no hesitation, pulls a huge shard of glass from her leg, and keeps on going.  She gets stabbed and shot, and still manages to survive.  She is such a badass, right up there with one of my personal favorites, Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise.

So, if you haven't had the chance to check this one out, do yourself a favor and give it a watch.  It's gory, violent, and intense, so just be aware, but it's absolutely worth it.

The Merc's Score: 9/10

Be sure to stay tuned throughout the rest of the month! We're posting a new horror review every day all throughout October, both old and new! Check back to see what movie we'll have you covering your eyes from next!

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