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You’re Next: Murder and mayhem at the family reunion

A scene from You’re Next.

2.5 out of 4 stars

Title
You're Next
Written by
Simon Barrett
Directed by
Adam Wingard
Starring
Sharni Vinson, A.J. Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Rob Moran
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2011

A well-executed horror-comedy, You're Next features a gang of home invaders in animal masks who disrupt a weekend family reunion at a country mansion.

The movie, which earned a lot of buzz at its Toronto International Film Festival debut two years ago, is distinguished by its knowing, inside-horror tone. Director Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, Pop Skull) has filled his cast with fellow mumblecore/mumblegore directors, including Larry Fessenden, Joe Swanberg, Ti West and Amy Seimetz, while offering a kind of show reel of low-budget slapstick violence.

Recently retired Paul Davison (Rob Moran), a marketer for an arms manufacturer, and his emotionally fragile wife, Aubrey (Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator fame), are about to celebrate their 35th anniversary. They have invited their four dysfunctional adult children, along with their partners. First to arrive are chubby professor-writer Crispian (A.J. Bowen), and his former student and attractive Australian girlfriend, Erin (Sharni Vinson).

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Sibling rivalries erupt shortly after dinner starts but are interrupted when a bolt from a crossbow crashes through the kitchen window. As the mayhem accelerates, the Aussie outsider, Erin, proves unexpectedly resourceful in repelling the invaders by repurposing kitchen implements as weapons.

Character development and plotting are rudimentary, though the tongue-in-cheek never gets dislodged while the body count rises.

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