House Of The Dead
by Brody Rossiter
Fans of late nineties professional wrestling, specifically World Championship Wrestling (WCW), will recognise the words “you’re next” as a popular promo ending catchphrase of professional wrestler and rampaging juggernaut of a man, Bill Goldberg. Many of you will not understand that reference, but nevertheless feel free to type “Goldberg” into YouTube and watch a compilation vid for kicks… and punches, suplexes etc.
Those uninitiated to the Atlanta wrestling scene may recognise You’re Next as a home-invasion horror flick released in the summer of 2013. A clever marketing campaign ensured a good degree of blood-soaked saturation across social media platforms and critical conclusions were predominantly favourable. However, the picture, which is perhaps the most competent contemporary example of its genre, may still have eluded your hungry little horror craving eyeballs. What better way to stumble into You’re Next’s violent and surprisingly fun-filled ride through its house of horrors than to sample its dastardly delights over Halloween.
The overarching premise revolves around – as with many horror pictures – a group of people, specifically the Davison family and their partners, being trapped in mom & dad’s country manor due to the presence of fox, lamb, and tiger faced assassins prowling around and throughout the house. This is where their fight for survival begins and the generic genre tropes come to an end.
Despite clearly being indebted to classic entries into the slasher sub-genre, You’re Next is a wonderfully unique and refreshing take on a tired cinematic bag of exploitative tricks. The plot is spoilerific in nature, and it’s also fun to play the “guess who’s gonna murder who game” from the opening scene, so plot details shall not be relinquished. Nevertheless, details regarding its powerful protagonist, Erin (Sharni Vinson), ultimately can be, and should be recognised as both a major selling point and benchmark for future female horror leads.
The cast in general, including mumblecore founder, Joe Swanberg, and horror’s hot directorial prospect, Ti West, are highly endearing, exhibiting a darkly comic dynamic that raises both laughs and cries of shock. The action plays upon years of jump scare supersaturation, playfully hinting that the scares will emerge from a darkened corner of the room before dropping an anvil upon your head. Importantly, there are also genuinely scary and chilling moments which relay that shadows and sharp objects are a suspect combination.
Much more could be easily written about You’re Next, and probably will be on this very site, but a word count and the limits of attention spans loom closer. So, in conclusion, if you want scares, laughs, thoughtful characterisation, brilliant casting, and a complete reworking of horror’s most transparent conventions, then You’re Next should be your next Halloween movie marathon pick. There’s also a really cool blender scene, but hey, I don’t want to spoil it.