I can distinctly remember the first time that I heard of Adam Wingard’s You’re Next. It was all the way back in September 2011, and while casually browsing the internet my Twitter feed suddenly exploded. Fellow movie critics and friends attending a screening of the home invasion thriller at the Toronto International Film Festival heaped lavish praise upon the piece and I immediately felt the need to have the experience for myself. Unfortunately, it took about a year and a half for it to happen, but this past weekend at the South by Southwest Film Festival I finally got my chance. “Worth the wait” only begins to describe it.

Built on a familiar and simple premise, You’re Next distinguishes itself with a terrific cast of characters, authentic scares to spare and just by being incredibly entertaining. Written by Simon Barrett, the story begins as the children of the Davison family (AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Nicholas Tucci, and Joe Swanberg) and their significant others (Sharni Vinson, Ti West, Wendy Glenn, and Margaret Laney) gather for their parents’ (Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton) 35th wedding anniversary at the clan’s mountain home. Things start going horribly wrong when a group of masked, silent killers descend on the house, but what they don’t know is that one of the party guests is more than ready for them.

Between Evil Dead and You’re Next I must say that I’m amazed how many great scares I have experienced at SXSW this year. Wingard’s killers, who wear surprisingly chilling animal masks throughout the film, are set up perfectly from the start, as it’s established early on that they have the entire estate on lockdown and have managed to infiltrate every square inch. It’s made abundantly clear to the audience that the monsters can attack from anywhere at any time, and it’s always a shock when they do. Unlike Evil Dead, however, the violence isn’t comically over the top and instead very realistic, only making the events more horrifying. Mixed with great pacing and excellent camera work it’s one of the scariest horror films to come out in years.

Though it would be inappropriate to label You’re Next as a horror comedy, as the movie doesn’t spend a whole lot of time making jokes or winking at the audience, don’t think that means it isn’t one hell of a fun ride. The scares are so effective, bloody and intense that you can’t help by giggle afterwards as a reflex, but really it’s just incredibly entertaining to watch the story play out. The attackers are so terrifying and vicious that the audience can’t wait to see their comeuppance messing with the wrong house, and Wingard delivers some wonderful vengeance, filled with creativity and cleverness that will have audiences cheering.

Without giving anything away, I will say that I was moderately disappointed by some of the big third act reveals but ultimately they’re forgivable just because of how entertaining and effective everything else in the film is. You’re Next may not revolutionize the home invasion thriller, but it stands up just because of how it plays with established elements of the subgenre. It’s all about the execution, and I mean that in every sense of the word.

For more of our SXSW 2013 coverage, click HERE.

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