Home invasion has been a staple of horror/thriller cinema through the years, but it’s fair to say that output has been a pretty mixed bag.

For every ‘The Strangers’ (good) there is a ‘Trespass’ (not good) so when You’re Next popped up on the cinematic calendar, I had no real idea just how it would turn out.

Well, the great news is director Adam Wingaard has come up with a helter-skelter offering that shows some of those previous shoddy flicks just what they should have been.

A rip-roaring, deliciously brutal thrill ride that will have you cheering from start to finish, this marks out Wingaard as a true genre talent, having already made waves with his earlier film A Horrible Way To Die (and his segment in hit anthology V/H/S).

Grabbing the audience by the throat from the get-go, You’re Next kicks off with a splashy double murder featuring genre fave Larry Fessenden.

From there the action shifts to a nearby mansion, with the Davison family getting together to celebrate the wedding anniversary of parents Paul and Aubrey (played by Rob Moran and Reanimator star Barbara Crampton).

The Davison family kids are a pretty varied bunch, from quiet teacher Crispian (AJ Bowen) through to goth Felix (Nicholas Tucci), who also brings along his hot girlfriend Zee (Wendy Glenn).

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There are plenty more – including horror talents Ti West and Joe Swanberg – and at times this resembles a V/H/S reunion.

Anyhow, the family get together for a celebratory meal, only for petty squabbles and arguments to turn the supposedly family affair into a bit of a farce.

But that turns out to be the least of their worries, as seconds later, one unfortunate guest gets a crossbow bolt through the skull.

From that moment on the house is under siege from a trio of masked, armed men who come prepared with crossbows, machetes, shotguns and much, much more.

Quite what they want is unknown, but they get a whole lot more than they bargained for when one of the house guests turns out to be a lot more resourceful than they first appeared.

To give away too much would spoil the many surprises Wingaard has up his sleeve, as every time You’re Next seems like it is finally conforming to conventions, the director whips out another twist or clever diversion.

The film absolutely races along and leaves you breathless most of the time, with scenes of genuine tension mixed cannily with some pretty full-on gore.

It must be said, a lot of that tension comes from an excellent score from Mads Heldtberg, Jasper Justice Lee and Kyle McKinnon – a score that elevates simple moments like a walk along a corridor into moments of seat-gripping terror.

Wingaard also includes quite a few laughs (genuine ones at that) and they help break up the mood, as if the film continued at the frenetic pace of some of its scenes, the whole thing would have become quite suffocating.

But by giving the horrific moments time to breathe, the director ensures maximum shock impact – and boy does the effects work from Fantasy Creations FX deliver.

We get plenty of crossbow bolt impacts, machetes to the head, screwdriver stabbings, wire garrotings and much more – in fact, there is so much death and destruction up on the screen that I am struggling to remember it all.

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As far as performances go, Sharni Vinson turns in a standout display as the tough-as-nails Erin, and there is solid support from the likes of Bowen.

If there is a minor quibble, there is a bit too much of the ‘hysterical screaming’ style acting early on, but as soon as those characters bite the dust even that problem vanishes.

You’re Next just delivers on every conceivable level, and I am struggling to remember when I last had such a great time at the cinema.

Gory, funny at the right moments, dripping with tension and constantly keeping you guessing, I could not recommend director Wingaard’s latest turn more.

Absolute bloody genius.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.