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'You're Next' review: Subversive horror comedy lacks killer instinct

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Director: Adam Wingard; Screenwriter: Simon Barrett; Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen; Running time: 94 mins; Certificate: 18


The subversive intentions of Adam Wingard's horror comedy You're Next are honorable, but the execution lacks the required invention and wit to place it anywhere near postmodernist treats like Scream and Cabin In The Woods.

You're Next specifically targets 'home invasion' flicks like The Strangers, a horror subgenre that threatens to rival 'found footage' as a term that induces nausea through overexposure. The opening sequence establishes the 'knowing' tone of the piece, as a couple who dare to engage in a spot of canoodling (a strict no-no in the horror movie rulebook) are brutally dispatched following a shower sequence.

Sharni Vinson in You're Next
The action then focuses on a family reunion at a remote mansion, in which the dysfunctional Davison clan bicker amusingly at the dinner table until a gang of axe-wielding, masked maniacs lay siege to the gaff. In one of the few inspired moments, there's even a mid-slaying debate over which of the family is the quickest sprinter as they weigh up the options of someone running for help.

The mandatory revelations and twists ensue, with Sharni Vinson's Erin emerging from the blood-soaked carnage as a convincing and formidable heroine.

Occasional lines of dialogue provoke intentional hilarity, with one vixen deadpannedly proclaiming to her partner: "I want to f**k you next to your dead mum". Move over, Norman Bates. It's also fair to conclude that this movie contains the best blender-related sequence since Gremlins.

Yet many of the tired horror tropes it depicts, like the POV hand on the shoulder shot accompanied by a jolt of cacophonous noise, are not toyed around with in an interesting enough manner. At times, this makes one question whether certain components are intended subversion or simple depiction. Too often, audience expectations are built up only for the payoff to fall short.

Despite graphically depicting a multitude of slayings, the film itself lacks the required killer instinct needed to satisfactorily dispatch its easy target. Given that the rules of the horror movie genre have been lampooned so mercilessly in the past, You're Next needed to embellish its familiar premise with more than sporadic bursts of ingenuity to meet its meta machinations.

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