Horror fans are having a terrific summer, between the mighty The Conjuring and the better-than-whispered-about World War Z. So if Adam Wingard’s devilishly funny home-invasion thriller gets lost in all the shrieking, chalk it up to bad timing. (The indie is already two years old, so better late than never.) Like those other movies, You’re Next is a throwback, this time to the smarty-pants verbosity of the Scream era: In a shadowy rural mansion, a wealthy, bickering clan and several bitchy houseguests are brutally targeted by mysterious crossbow-wielding strangers. A 35th-anniversary dinner is, to put it mildly, ruined. Everyone dives for cover.
It’s spoiling nothing to say that one attendee—scrappy non-family-member Erin (Sharni Vinson)—rises to the occasion and returns some fire of her own; such is the plot’s respect for genre chestnuts that her emergence as a steely-eyed warrior is welcome. Wingard milks door-creeping suspense for all it’s got, and when the script takes a turn toward devious backstabbing, there’s relish in it. Nothing here is new, but you can’t call expert craft like this warmed-over. Solidly satisfying with ruthless forward momentum, the film plays like a minor triumph.
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