Next in line


How many times has this happened to you?  You and your better half are celebrating your 35th wedding anniversary and have invited family and friends to a secluded Missouri cabin for the festivities.  The wine has been poured, the food is ready…and two of the members of your admittedly dysfunctional clan are already opening old wounds with an argument stemming from typical sibling grudges.  Nothing you haven’t dealt with in the past, of course…but it’s the new wounds that are going to be a problem; a guest looking out one of the windows takes a crossbow bolt to the skull, and The Home Invasion From Hell is on like Donkey Kong.

That’s the premise of You’re Next, a 2011 Canadian slasher flick (released in the U.S. in 2013) that I have to admit takes a fairly mundane premise and injects it with both clever touches and a wickedly dark sense of humor.  Though the motives of the assailants who have conducted this attack on a family that just wants to eat, drink, and be merry will eventually be revealed in its 95-minute running time (there are two nifty twists in the movie–one I saw coming and one I did not), I got a kick out of You’re Next’s initial Arch Oboler-like premise (something freaky has just happened and there’s no plausible explanation why), in which a seemingly respectful family (if a tad maladjusted—the tension between some of its members could be cut with a knife…no pun intended) is beset upon by masked intruders who are taking no prisoners.  Simon Barrett wrote the inventive script, with Adam Wingard (responsible for the 2016 Blair Witch reboot) seated in the director’s chair.

“Can’t we sit down and enjoy a nice family dinner for once in our lives?”

The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear faithful are no doubt aware that I don’t get to see as many “recent” movies as I would like…but a reader who recommended I check out It Follows (2014) after I wrote a book review of 101 Horror Movies You Must See Before You Die mentioned You’re Next as another horror flick worth unspooling as well.  (I finally caught up with Follows during a Showtime freeview—it may well be the best horror film I’ve seen in the past decade—and purchased Next on DVD for a mere bag of shells from Hamilton Books on a whim.)   I enjoyed You’re Next a lot more than a similar home invasion thriller, The Purge (2013); Wingard’s use of a handheld camera and low lighting gives this chiller a sweaty, claustrophobic feel that adds immeasurably to its suspense.

Sharni Vinson (as Erin), kicking ass and taking names.

Barbara Crampton—who plays the mother, Aubrey Davison—Is the only actress in the film I admittedly recognized; Crampton made the rounds on quite a few of the TV daytime dramas that my mother watched back in the day (The Young and the Restless. The Bold and the Beautiful) but I of course remember her from Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986).  (And on a personal note…you’re still a stone fox, Babs.)  The “final girl” of the film (Erin, the girlfriend of son Crispian) is portrayed by actress Sharni Vinson, who’s delightful as a college student more than capable of taking care of herself.  I was also impressed with Wendy Glenn (Glenn and Vinson were real-life best friends/roommates during the shoot) as Zee, who has a unforgettable highlight in Next suggesting a little slap-and-tickle in the vicinity of a corpse.  (It’s sick…but falling-down funny.  Ivan-Bob says check it out.)

2 thoughts on “Next in line

  1. I’m just glad that opening paragraph wasn’t a personal anecdote from your life as I feared when I began reading it (the crossbow to the skull line tipped me off). You have a gift for writing an engaging review of a movie I knew immediately I would never see. In fact, as I read on I kept thinking to myself, “yeah, no way I’ll ever see this one,” but it was sure fun to read about in a cross-cultural communication way. I’ve just never been a fan of blood-soaked axe-wielding horror (though the girl is awfully cute).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t watch a lot of slasher films as a rule — I prefer horror films of a psychological nature — but I was really won over by YOU’RE NEXT. It’s an excellent example of how you can make a worn-out genre entertaining with a little imagination and humor.


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