Friday, August 23, 2013


The festival audience I saw it with ate it up. You're Next unfolded before a crowd eager to absorb its thrills, from the animal-masked antagonists who lay siege to the home of a rich but obnoxious family fallen on hard times to the plucky houseguest who proves a surprising adversary to the invaders. The full-capacity crowd was truly lit up by it, cheering at every kill, laughing at every joke, and warmly welcoming the attending filmmakers. One audient even went as far as to thank them for making "the intelligent horror film we've all been waiting for."

Engaged though I was, I felt like everyone else in the theatre had seen another movie. The efforts to make many of its characters unsympathetic reeked of mumblecore misanthropy. The political subtexts seemed underbaked (outside the visceral thrill of watching a family of back-biting one-percenters getting theirs). And even after everything had been revealed and settled I hadn't felt like I'd witnessed anything truly new, or even anything more than an exciting diversion.

Why then was it (and is it, on this, the day of its release) being hailed as The Next Great Big Thing In Horror Cinema? I was perplexed by the above-quoted audient's blanket statement. Similarly perplexing were remarks made by director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett that "We see every horror film that comes out...and we feel like we’re constantly being insulted." And does E! Online's Peter Paras really have the perspective to back up his claim that it's "the freshest horror movie in decades"? Decades, Peter?

Yes, mainstream horror is often characterized by remake after remake. But don't any of these people know that now, as always, there is GREAT horror to be found in the margins, and that you often have to go to the margins for it? Have none of these people seen The Loved Ones? Or The Moth Diaries? Or Berberian Sound Studio? Or Stake Land? Or anything by Ben Wheatley?

Perhaps I'm simply burned out on internet hype in general (as I suspect are you - how many times have you seen the words "Ben Affleck" and "Batman" in the same sentence over the last 24 hours?). I do not begrudge Messrs. Barrett & Wingard for making the movie, nor you for enjoying it. And I'm as pleased as anyone to see a horror movie getting such good traction, and hope it'll lead to other, more intelligent fare getting released down the way. But can we keep things in perspective, please? You're Next has its virtues; being the only (or even the best) game in town ain't one of them.

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