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You’re Next starts off slow, almost to the point that I worried it was going to lose its target audience entirely. Luckily, there is something going on, just not what is to be expected based on the gore-heavy (nearly gore-exclusive) trailers. An upper-middle-class family reunites in a Mansion in the Woods, and the barely hidden tension comes out in supremely bitchy fashion. It’s basically (and here’s your pull quote right here) a comedy of manners interrupted by a horror movie.

Erin (played by Step Up 3D‘s Sharni Vinson), a girlfriend meeting the family, turns out to be unexpectedly equipped to respond to the home invasion. The explanation for this characterization is both logical and timely. As the buzz indicates, You’re Next is heavily subversive of the home invasion genre. Whenever a trope is subverted, a logical explanation is provided for why it is subverted, and whenever a trope is played straight, a logical explanation is provided for why it is played straight.

(GENERALLY SPOILER-ISH INFORMATION IN THIS PARAGRAPH. I’m not giving anything completely away, but this is information I’m glad I didn’t know beforehand.)  In the last 30 minutes or so, as Erin really doubles down in her fighting back, You’re Next decides to travel back to the 80’s with an awesome John Carpenter-style synth score. Interestingly enough, You’re Next may owe less to something like The Strangers than it does to a certain crime movie from the 40’s (quite possibly the best crime movie of all time – or at least the best noir crime movie of all time). You know how I said it’s a comedy of manners interrupted by a horror movie? Well, it’s really more of a crime movie disguised as horror. And the twists keep on coming right through to the end. There’s almost a final twist that would have been a little too bleak for most audiences’ tastes, but that is quickly averted by a different, not quite as bleak, twist. And all these final twists are punctuated by perfect pitch-black humor, particularly Erin’s recapping of the details of her fighting back. (END SPOILERS)

The cast is mostly made up of your favorite indie filmmakers (Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Amy Seimetz in a role quite different than Upstream Color), several of whom my brother knows, and the aforementioned Sharni Vinson. Now, I unabashedly love Step Up 3D, but that’s because of the dancing and the 3D, and in spite of the acting. The acting in Step Up 3D could have been worse, but it was unimpressive enough to make me worry that Sharni might be a liability to You’re Next. Well, I owe her an apology, because she rightfully deserves a place among Heather Langenkamp and Sigourney Weaver as one of the best horror heroines who fight back of all time. A

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