- Grant enables UAB Hospital staff to feed underprivileged moms of newborns
- Military man coming to UAB for first time, graduates Saturday
- UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences to honor distinguished alumni and friends
- ‘Tis the season of giving — UAB launches holiday blood drive
- How a cybersecurity expert protects his smartphone
- ASC presents Take 6, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Dec. 15
- Leeth named UAB School of Medicine assistant dean for strategic planning
- Coping with holiday grief
- New water plan saves big money
- Campus police offer holiday safety tips
- Alys Stephen Center Screens Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
- Hospital feeds underprivileged new moms
- UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents Yo-Yo Ma Dec. 6
- Southern Miss tops Blazers, 62-27, in season ending game
- Henry Panion selected for 2014 Alabama African-American History Calendar
Mark’s Movies: You’re Next
Okay, full disclosure: I met director Adam Wingard- whose latest movie, “You’re Next” opens this week- at the Sidewalk Film Festival a few years back, when he screened a rough cut of his then-current movie “Home Sick.” The score wasn’t finished yet, so he subbed in music from other horror movie soundtracks, giving the movie a sort of Tarantino-esque vibe in that it repurposed the likes of Goblin and Fabio Frizzi into a new context, much as that director does with his use of other film scores in his own films.
I interviewed him after the screening, and it was clear that his horror bona fides were in order, if it wasn’t already evident from the film itself. Clearly, this was a guy who knew his stuff, and he wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with it in a way that a lot of modern horror filmmakers fear to tread in this PG-13 horror-lite landscape. Of a piece with filmmakers like Rob Zombie and Eli Roth, Wingard obviously wanted to get horror back to its old-school roots, where the emphasis was on scaring the life out of the audience, not teasing them with cheap scares and music stings.
Some years later, he’s back, and it was a really cool moment to be able to pay for a ticket to see a local boy done good in an actual theater this time around. His shot at the big time fully secured, I hoped against hope that the movie in question was better than the sadly ambiguous trailer suggested. Thankfully, it was.
“You’re Next” is a slam-bang thriller that is so much more than the typical “home invasion” flick a la “The Strangers” or “Funny Games” that the preview implies. Yes, the film has similarities to both of those films- the rich people in isolated locales being targeted, the creepy masked figures lurking in the shadows- but saying it’s a mere “home invasion” flick is doing no more justice than calling it a run-of-the-mill slasher flick, a genre with which it also has similarities.
The set-up is simple enough: a guy who’s estranged from his family comes home for a reunion to introduce his new girlfriend to the clan when mysterious masked figures strike, seeking to pick them off, one by one. That’s about it.
However, just because a premise is simple doesn’t mean the execution has to be- or the characters, for that matter- and that’s where writer Simon Barrett (who also plays one of the attackers) comes in. Barrett has other things in mind beyond a stereotypical slasher flick, and thank God (or the Devil, as the case may be) for that.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that there are some pretty clever twists here and an unexpected horror heroine for the ages. Relative newcomer Sharni Vinson plays Erin, the aforementioned girlfriend, a saucy Aussie and a would-be victim with an actual working brain. Imagine that. In a horror movie! I know!
I had given up hope there could ever be such a thing, and this year alone, we’ve had several, notably Emma Fitzpatrick, from the surprisingly decent sequel “The Collector,” Jane Levy, from the flawed-but-okay “Evil Dead” remake, and Jessica Chastain, from the intriguing “Mama,” which was pretty good, aside from that bonkers ending. Vinson, though, tops every last one of them. Indeed, I would rank her up there with amongst the best horror heroines ever. (Yeah, I said it.)
Now, be forewarned. This is not a horror movie for sissies. John Waters once said the highest compliment one of his films could ever receive was if someone vomited at a screening- well, at the one I attended, two girls walked out about thirty minutes or so into it, never to return, and I do mean that as a compliment. This ain’t some CW-friendly horror movie for people that aren’t really die-hard horror fans. Stuff gets real- and real bloody, I might add, so it’s not for the squeamish, either.
Granted, some might be turned off by the somewhat gratuitous nudity, but come on, it’s a horror movie. There was a time when you could count on such things before AIDS screwed everything up, then it become “politically incorrect” to boot. Who gives a crap? It’s horror movie 101- you have sex or get naked, you die. Hell, if anything, that probably prepared a freaking generation for what came next. But did it stop people from having sex? Um, no. So, why not show it?
Besides, it’s not as if it’s like “Girls Gone Wild” adjacent. In fact, one of my favorite scenes in the movie involves the Goth chick, Zee, who wants to have sex at the most inappropriate time ever- and hilariously gets called on it. The actress in question, Wendy Glenn, also has the best line in the movie as a retort to her man’s disbelief, which I won’t ruin here. So, there’s actually sort of a point to some of the gratuitousness, with the film occasionally almost bleeding into satire- emphasis on the bleeding.
So, maybe I’m a bit biased, but I enjoyed the heck out of “You’re Next.” I love a good horror film, and they’ve been in short supply up until this year, at least, which I’m happy to say, has been a productive one for horror. I like that Wingard tends to use the same actors time and again, and I thought the use of that one song that repeated over and over was hilarious- I could just picture Wingard being: “I paid for the rights to this thing, by God I’m gonna use the crap out of it!” Funny stuff.
Bonus points as well for featuring horror royalty Barbara Crampton, who I just adored as a kid, from the minute I saw her has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed turn in “The Re-Animator,” which gives all-new meaning to the word head, and not in the way you’re thinking, dirty birdies. (See also “From Beyond” and the guilty pleasure “Chopping Mall,” if you dare.) Might I also say that Mrs. Crampton is still looking mighty fine these days? I’ll have what she’s having, indeed.
“You’re Next” may not re-invent the wheel but it tweaks it just enough to matter, and should be at the top of any self-respecting horror fan’s must-see list, asap. Biased or not, I’m giving it a solid B+, but Vinson is an A+ all the way, and makes the film worth seeing in and of herself. If you live in Alabama, and you love horror movies, there is no excuse not to see this movie- but even if you don’t, “You’re Next” should be…well, your next choice. Well played, Mr. Wingard. Well played, indeed.