This film from Adam Wingard is a cool and dark little horror number. Mixing the slasher styles with some black humour the script keeps levels of blood up and a trickling of fear to suitable genre standards. A feisty female lead and some inventive little plays on the horror category make this more than just a usual spill your guts nonsense flick.
Heading back for a family reunion, Crispian (A. J. Bowen) and girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) are joined by Crispian’s parents, two brothers, his sister and their respective partners. Their arguments over dinner are the least of the worries once they all realise masked men outside are keen to attack and kill the family and spoil this reunion.
First of all, the horror aspects are done well, creepy houses, woods, darkness, basements and killing tools all play their part in creating a believable atmosphere to sell as a horror movie. The humour quality plays in, not overbearingly, but just in certain quips or moments that riff on other over serious horror features. Combining these two genres is a cool trick and it doesn’t ever feel ‘Scary Movie’, it is definitely more horror than comedy but it has thriller and mystery notions added to the mix as well.
Adam Wingard has a rep to his name now, for horror styled films, that and an intelligent understanding of blending genres in his work. His latest movie, ‘The Guest’ is a prime example of balancing styles and creating off beat yet fantastic looking and sounding hybrids of cinema. This isn’t as in your face as his newest but you can hear soundtrack choices that crop up in Dan Stevens acting vehicle and the feel of Wingard’s directorial hand is ever present.
Simon Barrett does a nice job with script duties, setting up the killers in a creepy bloody manner as all horror films should, then the weaving in of subject to terror and family drama is a fun one to watch unfold. The only issue with the story and the film itself is in the attempt at a twist. It’s pretty damn obvious from a mile or two off and that does weaken any surprise sadly. The missing character for a long time makes another turn in the road a predictable thing also but half of the joy still remains in seeing Erin kick butt and get to the brutal finale.
The soundtrack feels right for a horror film for a long part of the journey. Tense beats in the score could be lifted from any kind of film of this market but then as it nears the end, 80’s keys mash into the system like an electronic pirate radio making its cool self known. This really lifts the penultimate chapters of the movie, the thrills elevated as the kicking funky sounds keep going over the action.
Sharni Vinson is a spectacular lead, unknown enough to not stand out or leave you putting her to previous outings, she sells Erin really well. The gorgeous young student squeeze could easily be sculpted as scream queen material but the creators take her out of that box and damage it completely, giving Erin the tools and brains to keep a step ahead and be a woman in a horror film with a chance. Vinson looks both capable and attractive, the mix needed for Erin and as a horror heroine, Vinson makes you empathise with her and root for her survival. The men behind the animal masks all do sterling jobs in their near anon roles. Body behaviours slowly moving to angles giving the murderers an eerie off kilter look, i.e, a head slowly cocking to the left, makes the slasher that much worse. Everyone else is a standard sort of horror foil for the plot but they play their necessary parts well, maybe apart from mumsy and papa who near the beginning sound like they’re acting out the script.
‘You’re Next’ is a different exercise in the same hat arena. It gives something gratifying to audiences or at least horror fans. Flashing ‘Rear Window’ techniques and slow mo crashes all play into the stylised sequences of this 2013 horror/thriller. It burns bright and bloody with a bitter char of predictability threatening to extinguish the flame.