Film Review : You’re Next (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 74%

Directed By – Adam Wingard
Starring – Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, and Rob Moran

When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

The genre of horror is a lot like chicken. I see chicken on a menu and I go “yeah, I’ve pretty much had enough chicken in my life, lets try something else”. However, there are still some wonderful chicken dishes out there in the world. Every couple years a few films get released that try to do something different that what everybody else is doing. Even the ones that don’t land as well as they should are still usually credited with striving to be unique. Chicken doesn’t have to be done the same way. It can be either generic or unique. Would you like me to stop making this awful chicken reference? Okay, you’re right. It was bad and I should be ashamed but I’m going to leave it in because this is America and I can make bad chicken analogies if I want. Moving on.

I enjoyed You’re Next. I enjoyed it enough to stick through a really awful middle act to get to the more interesting and entertaining final third of the film. The film centers around a family reunion in an old house in the middle of the woods. We have seen this film probably a million times. However what we haven’t seen is a horror film totally be in on its own joke and create a new experience. I know that “Cabin in the Woods” was a similar film where the comedy and satire of the horror genre is on full display and while I loved that film it was very obvious to the viewer what was going on. With “You’re Next”, you’re not entirely sure if what you’re watching is supposed to be dark humor or horrible crafted straight horror. I looked at it as a comedy. Not a very hilarious comedy but one that should be enjoyed without sniveling and complaining on how ridiculous the actions of the actors on screen are.

The middle of the film almost lost me. It took me a long time to get what was going on and that I should be enjoying the ride instead of constantly rolling my eyes at the decisions being made by these characters. The whole way the attack on the house begins makes the viewer believe what they are seeing is cheese in its smelliest form. However when giving the film time to breath and come to fruition, the gist of what Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett are trying to accomplish starts becoming clearer. I really enjoyed the final third of the film but can’t go too far in explanation in order to avoid spoiling key moments in the film.

Besides the creative writing, the camerawork from director Adam Wingard was particularly impressive. While nailing traditional horror techniques such as villain POV and quick gore cuts, Wingard also uses a unique filming style, particularly in the films for dark lighting scenes, that give a viewer a new way to be scared. Use of camera flashes and old fashioned jump scares were earned instead of coming off cliche and tried.

Overall I liked the film. I like when horror movies try to think outside the box and take old used ideas and settings and try to create something new. It’s like wrapping chicken in bacon and putting ice cream on top. Is it good? Well, shit, that’s sounds like it would be. I’d eat that. I don’t know about you. Even if it wasn’t delicious, at least it isn’t the same of bland piece of meat resting on an equally bland slop of potatoes.

I’m going to work on my analogies.


Film Review – Drinking Buddies

IMDB Score – 6.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 82%

Directed By – Joe Swanberg
Starring – Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston

Luke and Kate are co-workers at a Chicago brewery, where they spend their days drinking and flirting. They’re perfect for each other, except that they’re both in relationships.

First let me start off saying that I don’t understand this poster. It’s the only poster I’ve seen for this movie and Jake Johnson doesn’t have a beard, which he does for the entire movie. Odd. I guess that really doesn’t matter.

So I’ve been actively trying to see more films that delve into the “romance” genre. I’m still not going to watching any Nicholas Sparks adaptions but a balanced film resume is important because people won’t take you seriously otherwise. Some of my favorite films dive into this category (Lost in Translation, Away We Go, Slumdog Millionaire) and while Drinking Buddies isn’t going to reach that kind of pantheon, I will say I quite enjoyed it.

You’re not going to a classic story of love in this and I think that’s why I liked it so much. It felt more real than most films and there’s a very good reason for that. The film is entirely improvised. Swanberg did a very interesting thing and just let the film play out in however direction it went. The film had a basics story structure but the acting was completely improvised by the cast as there was no script. Besides Wilde, whom I’ve never really seen act besides seeing her in House and a horrible Ryan Reynolds movie I’m still binge drinking to forget, I’m a fan of the major players. Jake Johnson needs to be in more things. He and Wilde were excellent together and really seemed to make the other shine. I honestly didn’t think Olivia Wilde was going to be a good actress but she was fantastic. Her role was a little bit like Greta Gerwig’s character in Frances Ha minus the incredible amount of quirk. Livingston and Kendrick, while not in the film as much as the other two, were both very good and played their characters well considering none of them had a script to work with. What I’m trying to say is that the acting was really good on all accounts here.

Swanberg has some serious talent. I almost decided to skip this because Swanberg was a director on the awful V/H/S but if he sticks with his passion projects, which this seemed to me to be, then I think he has a bright future ahead of him. Some may think that this film is a hipsters dream. The characters work at a brewery. Some have beards and ride bikes to and from their studio apartments and the bar they hang out at has a couch in it but I just found it to be a very well made film that was highlighted by fantastic improvised performances.