DVD Review: You’re Next

Published on January 24th, 2014 in: Comedy, Current Faves, DVD, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore


“Bidding war” are two words that filmmakers sometimes wait years to hear. In the case of You’re Next, though, it also meant that audiences would have to wait years to see the movie that caused the stir in the first place. If you saw You’re Next at TIFF’s Midnight Madness a few years back and wondered what happened to it, you’re in luck. It’s now out on DVD after a brief theatrical run at the end of last year.

The Lionsgate and Summit merger was what caused a two-year delay in the release of You’re Next but it was worth the wait. If you’re not yet familiar with the cinematic resumes of Adam Wingard (director) and Simon Barrett (writer), this is a ideal introduction. The duo has made a reputation for genre mixing and You’re Next does just that.

No disrespect to the wonderful The Cabin In The Woods, which upended tropes by mixing horror and comedy, but You’re Next is a different kind of animal. It’s a home invasion movie, but then again, it’s not. It’s also the rare comedy where everyone is a straight man. And while the horror is indeed horrific, it’s not so much that it’s playing it for laughs as it is exposing the idea of a film’s body count as ludicrous.

Despite not necessarily aiming to shock or scare, You’re Next gets right what so many so-called “real” horror movies get wrong. The character development and exposition seem natural and there aren’t any awkward monologues, foreboding close-ups, or unexplained focuses on things that will eventually become important. The little details play a huge role in giving us immediate insight into the characters, through subtle bits of dialogue, facial expressions, and even hairstyles and clothing. Again, nothing is overplayed or obvious, but you get it right away.

The chemistry between the members of the cast is outstanding. Much of this comes from Wingard and Barrett’s history with the actors-slash-filmmakers who appear in the movie—A.J. Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz—whose roles were written for them. That adds a layer of metacritical fun for fans of these folks, but those unfamiliar with them will laugh at their interplay throughout the movie. Best, the dinner table scene is mostly improvisation which speaks to what good actors they all are. Even the newcomers to the Wingard and Barrett world—Sharni Vinson, horror fave Barbara Crampton, Wendy Glenn, Nicholas Tucci—fit in perfectly with everyone else.

So much of a movie’s success or failure can depend on the score and the soundtrack and You’re Next does an impeccable job with both. The Dwight Twilley Band’s “Looking For The Magic” plays a pivotal role in the film, despite the lyrics not having anything to do with the plot. It sounds like a song you’ve heard before even if you haven’t, but it’s also odd enough to create a sense of foreboding long before you realize you’re supposed to have one.

The original music, a combination of contributions from Kyle McKinnon, Jasper Justice Lee, Mads Heldtberg, and Wingard himself, is wonderfully creepy and evocative. Not only is the music great, the placement of it (or lack thereof) is equally inspired.

Visually the film is stellar, and has a better handle on what makes a scene look scary than a lot of modern horror films with far bigger budgets. There’s a wide shot in the beginning that sets the tone of isolation upon which the narrative events of the film rely, and close-ups that help to intensity the claustrophobia. When one of the killers enters the window with a corpse, the camera is angled to create a genuine sense of menace. Even the dreaded shaky cam makes an appearance, but here it’s appropriate for the dinner table mayhem that ensues. There are also several jump scares that work well and keep the story moving.

Any assessment of what You’re Next gets right would be meaningless without addressing Sharni Vinson as Erin, one of the best Final Girls in any movie in recent memory. She is instantly likeable and three-dimensional, not just a pretty face but a formidable force to reckon with, and her back story is completely plausible, too.

The best part about You’re Next is that while it is thoroughly enjoyable the first time around, it gets even better upon additional viewings, when you know what’s going to happen and look for signs that should have made things obvious, because they’re so skillfully woven into the fabric that you can hardly see the seams. Anyone who says modern horror movies aren’t good hasn’t been paying attention to Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. Hopefully You’re Next will change that.

You’re Next was released on DVD on January 14 through Lionsgate. Special features include the trailer, a featurette called “No Ordinary Home Invasion: The Making Of You’re Next,” and two commentary tracks, one with Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, and another with Wingard, Barrett, Sharni Vinson, and Barbara Crampton.

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