Film Of The Week: YOU'RE NEXT (2013)

When a gang of masked, ax-wielding murderers descend upon the Davison family reunion, the hapless victims seem trapped... until an unlikely guest of the family proves to be the most talented killer of all.

I don't normally watch horror movies, but I decided to give You're Next a try. Some horror films definitely have an action-oriented appeal to them, and so if I do see a horror movie, those are the ones I normally go for. That said, the concept used for this type of film stood out to me in a way that allowed me to enjoy this latest film from director Adam Wingard.

Sharni Vinson stars as the newest guest to a family reuinion in a mansion located in the middle of nowhere. She plays a college student in love with her financially struggling boyfriend, on the verge of her last year before earning her degree. Throughout the first act, she gets to meet his rich family and begins acclimating herself with her peers and her environment, and for a while, all seems well and peaceful. For a while...

The following evening when everyone arrives with other third-party guests, everything that should have added to a joyful family getaway turns into blood-coated chaos, when dinner is gravely interrupted by a small gang of masked killers armed with machetes, axes and crossbows. Of course, in typical horror movie fashion, with the entire family seemingly desperate to survive, one wrong decision leads to another, followed by another and another, which of course increases the body count, and only a handful of survivors are left. And just when you may have thought the plot would continue to be linear, alas, there is a twist in the plot that boils down to murder, greed, lust and envy, leaving this incident to be more than just a home invasion. However, when the killers least expect it, there's no huge waiting period before watching the film's seemingly unlikely heroine kick into survival mode almost immediately, revealing a side to her no one knew, not even her boyfriend.

I'm not a huge horror film buff, despite having seen a few in my own life. But to my point here though, what I really love most is how action-oriented it feels. Sure, there are moments of suspense and thrills, and some moments of predictability that make you roll your eyes. And that's pretty much any horror film. But the biggest scenes with the most fun are with Vinson while she is evening the score against the killers, wounding them, maiming them from time to time with booby traps, and getting down and dirty and finishing them off.

On its plot, the film delivers such a tasteful film focusing on a variety of moments illustrating the extremes of a family carrying a façade of politeness that thinly veils their inner feelings, causing tensions to boil over and revealing that even the most well-to-do family has issues of its own. All of this sets up a great formula for a story that delivers an intense, horrific survival thriller about a woman caught in the middle of a deadly situation that turns out to be way more than it is on its face.

The cast did an impressive job here with their respective roles, performing a lot of the quirky, human moments that make you giggle from time to time, from the toxic rivalry between brothers Crispan and Drake (A.J. Bowen and Joe Swanberg), to the wacky relationship between other brother Felix and goth girlfriend Zee (Nicholas Tucci and Wendy Glenn). Above it all though, Vinson is the star here, and she carries herself with all the energy of a purely talented and physically capable actress worthy of any role she pleases. Because not only does she have the goods, but she IS the goods, and clearly that's just fine with producer Adi Shankar who just brought the actress on board his next project, the tentatively-titled female action vehicle, The ExpendaBelles with actresses Gina Carano and Katee Sackhoff.

I'm glad I saw You're Next when I did upon its release a week ago. The film is awesomely entertaining and the fact that the film is doing so well makes me even more proud to support Vinson with the hopes of seeing her in more action-oriented roles. So, I wholly recommend it as a major palate cleanser for the entree that awaits, and I'm more than happy to share this guy's opinion...all four of them:

You're Next stars Sharni Vinson along with Joe SwanbergA.J. BowenNicholas Tucci, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, Barbara Crampton, Rob Moran, Wendy Glenn and Lane Hughes. The film is written by co-star and producer, Simon Barrett, and edited and directed by Adam Wingard.


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