A black comedy with a slasher movie chaser, Adam Wingard’s You’re Next uncorks a chilled bottle of social satire. The 2011 picture is written by Simon Barrett and ostensibly seems like a conventional home invasion piece, but there’s an edge to it that sets it apart in the genre.
There are a lot of working parts in You’re Next and Wingard knows the terrain. He uses Andrew D. Palermo’s cinematography to generate a sense of disquiet, like something’s not quite right. The retro score falls in line and the soundtrack, featuring the Dwight Tilley Band’s “Looking for the Magic” on a loop, does the trick.
After a grisly murder in which the killer writes “You’re Next” on the window in blood, a rich family gets together. Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) are the parents. Aubrey thinks she hears someone upstairs. Crispian (A.J. Bowen) arrives with his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) and fights with his brother Drake (Joe Swanberg).
Felix (Nicholas Tucci) shows up with his sweetheart Zee (Wendy Glenn) and there are others. The family squabbles at dinner until someone outside starts shooting a crossbow through the window. All hell breaks loose and soon the wealthy family is set upon by masked intruders.
Wingard’s movie reveals something important rather early in the proceedings and it’s apparent that this is no mere home invasion. There are foul things afoot and the inner workings of this well-to-do family are laid bare.
You’re Next sets things up by generating a considerable degree of dislike for the well-heeled household in question and it’s easy to find warped amusement as the sweater-wearing dorks get mowed down mid-squabble. Nearly everything about Drake and Crispian and Felix and even the parents is grating and the camera’s quivering delivery helps in that regard.
The access point is Erin, who is an outsider in every sense of the word. When the fur starts to fly, she enters survival mode and reveals that she had a “unique” upbringing. This serves her well as she fashions weapons and traps. Crispian, her douchebag boyfriend, has gone for help.
Vinson is fun to watch as she turns the tables on the killers. She doesn’t behave like any old dumb horror heroine. She doesn’t run from one bad situation to another and she capably handles her business, which results in one hellacious kill after another. She even takes a blender to someone’s cranium, which is all kinds of awesome.
The twist of You’re Next isn’t exactly revolutionary and Wingard seems to know this, as he makes the disclosure with surprising nonchalance. He sends up the moment later when he has a character attempt to seduce another in the vicinity of a corpse, all under the pretext that they never “do anything interesting anymore.”
Wingard’s flick is full of sweltering black comedy and social satire. From dinner chatter about the artistic merit of commercials to cantankerous arguments between siblings, You’re Next unpacks an exasperating domestic drama and fires a bolt through its diamond-encrusted skull.