Review: You’re Next ★★★★☆

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Home-invasion horrors are like London buses. Wait a few years and several come at once. The Purge, released in June this year, failed to win over many critics with its promise of social satire and some real intelligence behind the blood and shrieking. The film ultimately fell flat with not running with these ideas. Nonetheless, it had potential. As did You’re Next.

After having its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival almost two years ago, the film has been hyped for quite some time, which may have been its downfall. However, unlike The Purge, it meets its expectations and brings a fresh take on home-invasion horror. The film follows the four Davidson children and their respective partners who come together for their parents’ wedding anniversary. As the evening of sibling rivalry begins, three masked strangers break into their home and the blood beings to spill. What the invaders weren’t counting on were one guest’s hidden secret.

During the first half of the film I had my doubts. With a very serious opening scene and some questionable acting, I thought this was just another horror flick that would fall into obscurity. However when the scene is set and heads start rolling, I realised that its tongue is placed firmly within its cheek. Although the beginning is a little muddled, You’re Next manages to find a good balance between genuine scares and laughs throughout. Regardless, it’s likely many will leave the cinema having genuinely enjoyed themselves. If you’re a fan of other genre-benders such as Tucker and Dale Vs Evil and The Cabin In The Woods, then this is the film for you.

Aside from the moments of dubious acting,  most of the cast perform well, particularly lead actors Sharni Vinson as Erin and AJ Bowen as Crispian. The over-the-top nature of their performances lends well to the film’s style, with their shrieks ‘we’re all going to die!’ adding to the humour. It’s not all fun and games though, and the actors step up when faced with a man, an axe, and fox mask standing over them for some genuinely scary moments.There is an ‘under-the-bed’ moment that had me transfixed so for those looking for some scares, they are certainly in there.

On the other hand, some uses of slow-motion distract from the action taking place and don’t entirely work. However these small issues can be overlooked when compared to the films’ triumphs. You’re Next plays with the conventions of the genre to great effect. There are some genuine twists and I walked out of the theatre with a smile on my face, and any good horror film has to leave you either a nervous wreck or with a spring in your step. There are issues: some problematic acting, a confused beginning and at times some strange music. But when heads are being blended and cut-off to the sound of Dwight Twilley’s Looking for the Magic, you can’t not have fun.

You’re Next (2013), directed by Adam Wingard, is released on 28th August 2013 in the UK by Lionsgate, Certificate 18.

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