How this horror movie turned expectations upside down from the start
The so-called home invasion horror subgenre has been done over and over again. The first house invasion movie can be dated 1909 with the DW Griffith movie Villa Solitaire, a movie about a man barricading him and his family in their house from burglars. The genre can range from more psychological thrillers like Panic room (2003), while films like Funny games (1997) and The foreigners (2008) are more of a slasher type, with grotesque gore and gore.
The genre, while entertaining, can get stale as the formula can get repetitive. Adam Wingard’s 2011 low budget horror film You are next takes that genre and flips it on its side, completely overturning expectations from the get-go.
You are next begins with a voyeuristic view of the couple Talia and Erik having sex. After taking a shower, the camera shows a close-up of the motion sensor light outside turning off, although Talia is completely unaware. When Erik walks to the bathroom, he plays the equally upbeat but worried Dwight Twilley Band’s “Looking for the Magic” on his CD player. He then sees “You’re Next” written on the window in blood when a masked killer abruptly enters and demolishes Erik with a machete. “Looking for the Magic” continues to play, and the film then moves on to the next victim, The Davisons, an extraordinarily wealthy but distant family.
In a typical home invasion fashion, parents Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Rob Moran) invite their family to their secluded country mansion for their wedding anniversary. The reunion includes their four children Felix (Nicholas Tucci), Drake (Joe Swanberg), Crispian (AJ Bowen) and Aimee (Amy Seimetz), as well as their relatives Zee (Wendy Glenn), Kelly (Margaret Laney), Erin (Sharni Vinson) ) and Tariq (Ti West), respectively. Things start with a brawl at the table, but quickly turn dangerous when an unknown assailant wearing an animal mask shoots a crossbow through the window, killing Tariq.
Right away, no one in the family is particularly sympathetic. Professor Crispian and his teaching assistant turned girlfriend seem self-centered. Drake and his wife’s only personality trait is that they thrive financially, Aimee continually talks about how she lost weight, and Felix and his goth girlfriend seem a bit behind the scenes. The character development doesn’t go too far to connect the viewer with family, which makes it easier for them to die, which happens right away.
After Tariq’s death, hell breaks loose. Three masked killers (fox mask, lamb mask, and tiger mask) continue to shoot crossbows through the house, one injuring Drake. Aimee tries to escape by running outside for help, but a hidden thread slices her throat. The film then takes a turn from the home invasion trope when the Lamb Mask tries to kill Crispian’s girlfriend Erin, but she fights him and escapes. As each person is killed one by one, the attackers begin to realize that killing Erin might be more complex than it initially was.
You are next is unique in which, yes, it follows all the clichés and conventions of the genre, but it also flips it completely. Making the characters inimitable makes the murders less gruesome to watch. The friendliest character is Erin, and the fact that the family would have died without her makes viewers support her more than anyone else. Everyone in the movie is selfish in one way or another, concerned about their status or their job, but Erin is selfless in trying to save a family she barely knows. She is not the typical “final girl”. She doesn’t have the stereotypical attributes of being “like a boy” or a virgin, and doesn’t just survive with any luck; she knows what she’s doing and how to do it: setting traps, using weapons, and brutally murdering a fox mask with a meat tenderizer. While setting up nail traps, Erin reveals to Zee that she grew up in a survival complex.
You are next does a fantastic job of not revealing who these killers are and why they want to have them for the first half of the movie. The film maintains the tension with the unique location of the country house, spooky lighting and sound design. The film’s music is entirely diegetic, with “Looking for the Magic” repeated throughout, the only non-diegetic music being the original score entitled “Run motherf *** er”: cries of violins, anxiety-inducing synths, and bass basses. The track perfectly encompasses the sense of terror, anguish and disturbing violence that the characters experience.
After Paul finds food and sleeping bags upstairs, he concludes that the killers were in the house, most likely spying on them. As he passes this information on to Felix and Zee, he is immediately killed with a machete. The masked killer then begins talking to Felix and Zee, revealing that they are involved in the murder. When Erin hears them in the other room talking about the family heirloom they will get when everyone dies, she realizes that she is alone to end everyone.
The movie ends with everyone dead except Erin. When Felix’s cell phone rings, Erin answers and Crispian begins to apologize for chomping down on killing his mother, revealing that he was also involved. As Crispian arrives and sees Erin on the phone, he tries to lure her into being quiet because how was he “supposed to know that she was so good at killing people”? She kills him by stabbing him in the neck and eyes, and a cop shows up and shoots Erin, believing she is the killer. As the policeman opens the front door, he succumbs to Erin’s front door trap, the ax hitting him in the head. The film then ends with his blood splashing the words “You’re Next” on the wall, possibly referring to a sequel?
The film turns ten this year. Will there be a long-awaited sequel? Sadly, screenwriter Simon Barnett says that might never happen. During an interview for Hollywood journalist, Barnett said: “We hope to work with [You’re Next lead actress] Sharni [Vinson] again soon on something, so maybe we’ll call her character Erin in this movie, and people can try to figure out what must have been her intervening decade. The full answer is after You are next sold out, but before its theatrical release, we talked a bit about making a sequel if the movie was successful. We were happy to do one if there was any interest, but I never wrote anything. Adam and I just shared a few ideas, and then when the movie failed I was glad I didn’t do any real work. ”
At the end, You are next provides precisely what it needs: it’s a modernized slasher flick that’s gruesome, gory, and surprisingly funny. It’s like a mix between the style of Thomas Vinterberg Celebration (1998) and that of Bryan Bertino The foreigners (2008) with its selfish characters, family tensions and masked killers, but with its unique twists. Wingard focuses on the film’s eerie atmosphere, voyeuristic camera angles, slow-motion shots, and eerie soundtrack to deliver a well-done slasher movie.
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