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Short Takes: You’re Next

By Laura Kern

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(Adam Wingard, U.S., 2011)

You're Next Adam Wingard

Traditionally, couples receive gifts of coral or jade for enduring 35 years of marriage, but in You’re Next, the Davisons, parents of three sons and one daughter, are instead presented with a night of sheer terror, after which they may never experience another day of wedded bliss. The family—plus the children’s significant others—has assembled for a celebratory weekend at their country home, but before they can even finish their first (drama-filled) meal together, they become the prey of animal-masked murderers armed with crossbows. 

What separates Adam Wingard’s latest feature (he’s since contributed segments to The ABCs of Death and both installments of V/H/S) from other recent home-invasion outings is its impeccable balance of serious scares and humor. It is, then, a rare example of satisfying horror-comedy, a crowd-pleaser laced with some hilariously gruesome violence. It also takes family dysfunction to delirious new heights (those of us who hail from large households know that such gatherings can bring out the worst in everyone).

Bonuses: the spectacle of one son’s discreetly ass-kicking girlfriend emerging as the character best able to hold her own in a crisis, and such indie-horror fixtures as Larry Fessenden and Ti West meeting their respective demises. Spoilers? Nah, it’s pretty much a given these days that (practically) no one survives in ensemble horror films. You’d certainly expect nothing less from such an amusingly simple title—and the pleasures of watching You’re Next are just as pure.

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