Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett's slasher flick "You're Next" has been hailed as an instant classic by the horror community since debuting at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011, and Lionsgate is finally handing the movie over to mainstream audiences today. So does it live up to the hype?
According the majority of critics who have reviewed the film so far, yes. A day before its release, "You're Next" has garnered a "fresh" rating on critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with 80 percent of 60 reviews applauding the film for paying homage to horror classics, while putting a fresh spin on an often-disappointing genre.
TheWrap's Alonso Duralde called the gory home-invasion thriller "exquisitely tense" while noting its exceptional wit and steady stream of shocks.
"Part of what makes 'You’re Next' so effective is its balance of outrageous carnage with the thoroughly believable responses of its characters," Duralde wrote. "No one sits around analyzing the action 'Scream'-style, but these people are at least smart enough to debate whether or not it’s such a hot idea to go into the basement. And as slasher-movie Last Persons Standing go, this movie delivers a doozy."
New York Post critic Kyle Smith was also impressed by the balance of horror and humor Wingard was able to maintain throughout.
"'You’re Next' is the kind of movie that somewhat plays the gore for laughs," Smith wrote. "But the comedy isn’t camp or annoyingly self-referential, and though the laughs defuse tension, they don’t completely replace it either."
Los Angeles Times critic Robert Abele echoed those sentiments, giving props to Wingard and Barrett for injecting much-needed fresh blood into a premise that has been done to death.
"The surprisingly adept mixture of tones — naturalism, dysfunctional family satire, winking slasher nostalgia, twisty vengeance thriller — is offbeat enough to keep even hardened connoisseurs of body-count entertainment on their toes," Abele wrote. "Even more remarkable is Wingard's understanding that answering horrific, seemingly senseless carnage with a second half that reveals a smart, tough, resourceful hero is the shrewdest way to keep an ongoing bloodbath cathartically enjoyable."
Not everyone, however, was impressed with Wingard's first major release. USA Today critic Scott Bowles faulted the film for being a tad too repetitious in his half-star review.
"'Next' is a film of repetition, a bloody dance consisting of three steps: stab, scream, repeat," Bowles wrote. "That's about all there is to this wretched exercise in corpse stacking."
While the Miami Herald's Rene Rodriguez gave the film props for giving the masked murderers a reason for their rampage, the negative review concludes the elaborate explanation isn't worth the audience's time.
"There’s an elaborate reason these psychos have targeted the Davison family. You just have to endure lots of gratingly bad acting, preposterous coincidences and hackneyed situations before learning the truth, " Rodriguez wrote. "The movie is not worth the effort."
Despite a few naysayers, it looks like Wingard — who previously directed segments in horror anthologies "The ABCs of Death" and "V/H/S" — should be proud of his first wide theatrical release. In fact, Empire Magazine's David Hughes bestowed one of the greatest compliments a budding horror director can recieve, by comparing him to the filmmaker behind the 1981 cult classic "Evil Dead."
"For a film whose title has such a sense of urgency, it’s surprising it’s taken two years to be released," Hughes wrote. "Don’t be put off: Wingard is on his way to becoming the next Sam Raimi, and 'You’re Next' may well be your next favourite horror film."