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The American home invasion indie You’re Next turns 10 this month, and the brilliantly stripped-down horror flick is among the very best scary movies to come out since its premiere. Luckily, you can stream it now on Hulu and Epix, just in time for Halloween.
Mixing comedy, family melodrama, and fearsome horror, You’re Next set director Adam Wingard on a path to directing this year’s Godzilla vs Kong, and it’s not to be missed.
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What is You’re Next about?
In You’re Next, the wealthy Davison family meets up at their summer home for a small family reunion. Middle son Crispin has brought his new girlfriend home to meet his folks and siblings.
Amid introductions to significant others and the usual bickering of siblings, the house comes under siege. Cut off from civilization while in cottage country during the off-season, the Davisons have to fight off masked intruders hellbent on killing the family. But who’s doing this, and why did they pick the Davisons. How did they even know the family would be here?
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festivals’s fan-favorite genre showcase Midnight Madness in 2o11, receiving generally positive reviews from critics. It didn’t officially come out in the US until 2013 though, and it’s amassed a small cult following since.
Extreme family melodrama
For the first half-hour, You’re Next lulls you into a false sense of security with a compelling family comedy. It never quite lets you forget you’re watching horror, but it also sets up a brilliantly simple screwball chamber piece to build off of.
The comedy of You’re Next has a clever, cynical bent. The Davison family’s passive-aggressive bickering feels spot-on in a familiar, indie movie kind of way.
Director Adam Wingard got his start as a member of the mumblecore movement. Mumblecore is an indie subgenre focused on dialogue and interpersonal relationships. Films like Humpday, Drinking Buddies, and Jeff Who Lives at Home take fairly simple, often unremarkable premises and make the films engaging and compelling by focusing on the characters therein and finding depth in their relationships and interactions.
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It’s an approach so well suited to horror that a horror sub-sub-genre emerged. Mumblegore (get it?) films include Baghead, V/H/S, The House of the Devil, Creep, The Invitation, and indeed You’re Next.
You’re Next is a little bit mumblecore, a little bit The Strangers, and a little bit Home Alone.
That focus on people and dialogue gives the film a terrific mean streak. No one in the Davison family is exactly likable. Some of these people are downright terrible. But they’re types we’ve seen before in films with, well, lower stakes.
It also helps ramp up the comedy, with runs throughout the film. Oldest brother Drake insisting he’s the family’s fastest runner even as he struggles to remove an arrow from his shoulder is a hilarious touch. A Home Alone–like sequence leads to some darkly funny carnage too, with pratfalls and angry meltdowns that feel all-too-real and absurd all at once.
You’re Next is an influential modern classic
You’re Next also feels like a vital entry in horror canon and home invasion film specifically. You can see echoes of You’re Next in everything from Us to Ready or Not to Hush to The Purge.
The film balances mundane domestic reality with sudden outbursts of violence perfectly, calibrating its tone for maximum impact. It presents a nightmare scenario that feels incredibly real and immediate.
That wasn’t completely unprecedented in 2011, of course, and had been a fixture of horror for decades. Think Night of the Living Dead, Funny Games, and The Strangers. But You’re Next fits perfectly into a 2010s mold of hipster irony and detachment while still feeling completely new and original.
It also helped launch a more mainstream career for Wingard. The You’re Next director would go on the make the criminally under-the-radar The Guest in 2014, followed by Blair Witch, Death Note, as well as the massively successful Godzilla vs Kong just earlier this year. He’s also set to direct a sequel to Face/Off and new film adaptations of ThunderCats and Robert Kirkman’s comic book Hardcore. That explosion into big-budget franchise filmmaking traces its origins back to You’re Next.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s certainly worth catching up with on Hulu or Epix.