Horror is having a moment and we just need to sit back and watch; the genre hasn’t been this exciting in forever. Like, ever. As you might have heard, I loved, loved, loved The Conjuring (I’ll stop reminding you at some point, probably not) and I, very unexpectedly, loved You’re Next. When the genre is good, there is nothing better. The best way to describe Adam Wingard’s You’re Next is as follows: Home Alone meets The Strangers, which, if you know me personally, is a dream come true. It combines the inventiveness of Home Alone with the terror/reality of The Strangers. Throw in a kick-ass heroine at the center and a really dark, twisted sense of humor and you have a fresh, modern horror movie.
The marketing effort for You’re Next made it look like The Strangers 2: We’re Back & We Have Different Masks but that’s not the case. The general idea – before the twist is revealed – has it feeling very been there, done that but even though the similarities between the two are hard to ignore, it has two things The Strangers does not: a sense of humor and some intelligence (keep in mind I love The Strangers). I’d actually argue that it’s more similar to The Purge except not dumb. You’re Next could have easily been a straight-to-DVD horror/comedy that went unnoticed and failed at it’s attempt at both horror and comedy but it doesn’t and it, strangely, rises above it. Like, the entire time you’re thinking that this movie really should be as good as it is.
The film never rids itself of it’s very low-budget feel. Everything just feels like this was a step away from entering your city’s local Horror Film Festival. Which, not to dismiss any amateur horror films, but they just have a certain feel to them. I loved the score though, which felt very similar at times to that of Halloween 2 – which, I mean, it’s all I need in this life of sin. What I loved most though is our heroine. I’m trying not to spoil the movie as much as I can so I’m just going to leave it at that. She’s a cross between Buffy & Ripley and it’s so badass.
Like The Conjuring though, You’re Next knows exactly what to do with the genre, it’s conventions, it’s limitations, it’s rules and how to work with all of that. The Conjuring was an ode to classic horror and You’re Next is a representation of what modern horror should look like: it’s funny, smart, incredibly tense and filled with plenty of jumps that never feel cheap and most importantly, it’s FUN. And funny. The latter being intentional, which is just so rare with this genre.