You're Next

Directed By: Adam Wingard

Starring: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Barbara Crampton, and Rob Moran

Hollywood has been on a mission to reinvigorate the horror genre this year.  With movies like The Purge and The Conjuring serving up plenty of original terror, studios have given me some semblance of hope that future films will do just the same, if not more.  Given that I had lost all hope in the genre for the better part of a decade, this is quite notable.  This weekend, we've arrived at the final horror movie of the summer, You're Next.  Happily, I can say that director Adam Wingard has knocked it out of the park with this one and that I've possibly just found my new favorite scary movie.  Moreover, the future of the genre has gotten just a little brighter thanks to Wingard's bloody fright fest.

Crispian (AJ Bowen) and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) are heading to his family's vacation home in the woods.  Crispian's parents Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) are celebrating their wedding anniversary by bringing the whole family back together.  Upon arriving, the couple finds Crispian's mother in tears because she thinks someone has invaded the house.  His father Paul finds no one after checking the home for intruders, and they all go inside and begin to prepare for the festivities.  Over the next couple of days, Crispian's brothers and sisters arrive, and the family feuding begins all over again as if it never stopped.  All the while, one thing escapes them all, the fact that Crispian's mom was right.  There is someone else in the house, and he and his masked buddies (L.C. Holt, Simon Barrett, and Lane Hughes) are about to crash the party and terrorize the Davison family.

You're Next is undoubtedly the best horror movie of the year.  Adam Wingard gives us some old school chills and thrills in the smartest horror movie I've seen in a long, long time.  I have to admit that I got nostalgic in the opening scene when that masked killer stepped out from the shadows with a machete in hand in a spooky ode to my favorite slasher Jason Voorhees.  Masked as a lamb, a fox, and a tiger, these menaces certainly earn my respect and prove it time and time again throughout the movie.  At the same time, I have to respect their victims who are not so helpless and don’t just roll over and die.  They come to the table with a smart game plan.  The killers just have a better one.  As the masked killers and their victims go back and forth in a tense, bloody game of cat and mouse, Wingard gives us true horror at its most intelligent and sadistic.

The thrills are really well-crafted in You're Next.  At first, Wingard delivers little slices of terror with hints of the killers’ frightening presence.  He may do so with a distant noise, a shadow, or even a creepy reflection in a window.  What this eerily conveys is that the killers are watching and patiently waiting for their moment to strike.  When things really get interesting, he unleashes hell on the big screen.  With "You're Next" messages written in blood, special deliveries of cadavers like the horror legends of old used to do it, and a truly unnerving ambiance in the dark of night where you can hear a pin drop, Wingard crafts one terrifying film in the old school horror tradition.  Wingard executes the slasher flick formula to perfection.

The acting is definitely not world-class in You're Next, but I can easily forgive this.  Wingard deftly puts Sharni Vinson on the big screen as our leading lady Erin.  The Step Up 3D star owns this movie.  She's the intelligent yet kickass chick we've been desperately needing in horror movies for the last several years, the one who's a perpetual thorn in any killer's side.  She handles her business throughout the movie and does whatever she must to survive.  In my humble opinion, her navigation of this bloody death trap puts her in the same class as leading ladies like Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Neve Campbell (Scream).

If you haven't figured it out by now, You're Next is my kind of horror movie, one where the victims are smart and the killers are smarter.  In this modern slasher flick, the kills are swift and meaningful.  The frights are real and tangible.  The dialogue is humorous and anything but cliché.  All in all, Adam Wingard has single-handedly rekindled my love for the horror genre.  You're Next gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.