You're Next

YOU’RE NEXT. Starring  Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci. Directed by Adam Wingard. Rated M (Strong bloody violence).  96 minutes.

While it can be said that You’re Next is very good of its kind, this does not mean a general recommendation. It is a violent thriller.

The film has a familiar enough plot.  A group of people find themselves in a situation where they cannot escape and mysterious people are trying to kill them.  And they are killed one by one.  Agatha Christie used this kind of plot in such stories as Ten Little Indians/And then there were none.  There’ve been stories of lost patrols, participants killed off one by one.  And there have been innumerable horror thrillers over the last three decades in the vein of Friday the 13th or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre where (uninteresting) young people have suffered ugly and violent fates.

While there are some violent deaths in this film, and touches of blood and gore, it is, mercifully, not a story about bland young people and their woes.  It is a story about adults.

There is a prologue where two people, eventually seen as the neighbours of the central couple, are brutally murdered and the caption, You’re Next, written in blood on their wall.

The main group who are under threat are a couple who have been married for 35 years and own a mention in the countryside.  It is a wedding anniversary and their children and their partners all come to the celebratory meal.  All begins well, the family chattering, when a dispute breaks out between two of the brothers and there is heightened anger as well as a desire to restore calm.  Then one of the gift guests is suddenly struck by a narrow fired from outside.  And mayhem begins.

The film a structured well, the reactions of the various people, the succession of deaths, with some ugly and bloody touches, using wits to fend off the attackers, the attackers entering the house. 

The cast is strong enough in creating individual characters and so audiences can identify, especially with the older couple, with their academic son who clashes with their his shallow-talking brother, the academic’s student-girlfriend who keeps her wits about her, as well as the youngest brother and his girlfriend.  The attackers remain mysterious but are gradually revealed – not nice people at all.  And for those who like a twist in the telling of the tale, there are some twists.

But it is Erin, the strong-minded girlfriend, who becomes the centre of the film.  She is played by Australian, Sharni Vinson, previous star of Home and Away.  The screenplay explains her accent by making her an Australian who grew up in a survival community in the outback, brought to the United States of the age of 15.  Australian audiences will definitely be on her side and pleased that she is the strong and determined one.

Most of the action takes place over a few hours, which heightens the tension.  And audiences could be looking at themselves and wondering about their reactions as they identify with the characters, feel the desperation, puzzle about what they might do in a similar situation, also puzzle about the amount of violence that they might use in defending themselves and saving others - and what they would do in terms of vengeance for wrongs perceived.

Which means that, if the audience is drawn to ask questions, this terror thriller is a cut, more than a cut, above similar films of its kind.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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Out August 29 2103.


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