M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on August 23, 2013 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!

YOU’RE NEXT (2011)

Directed by Adam Wingard
Written by Simon Barrett
Starring Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, AJ Bowen, Wendy Glenn, Joe Swanberg, Margaret Laney, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, Rob Moran, Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, L.C. Holt as Lamb Mask, Simon Barrett as Tiger Mask, Lane Hughes as Fox Mask
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

Though in the interim between the making and the releasing of the film there have been a slew of successful and not so successful home invasion films, YOU’RE NEXT supplies enough scares and thrills to make it one of the better ones of the subgenre.

The story begins simply enough, with a scene that is very reminiscent to THE STRANGERS as a man and a woman are slaughtered in their home while creepy music is played in the background. Though in the grand scheme of things, other than providing a first kill thrill in the opening moments before the story actually starts, there’s not a lot of reason for this scene, it is a suspenseful opener to the whole thing. Plus the scene features actor/writer/director Larry Fessenden, who is always fun to see.

The rest of the film plays out like many home invasion films do, as a trio of masked invaders surround the house and start picking off the folks inside. But while we’ve seen that scenario play out numerous times in films like THE STRANGERS, HOME SWEET HOME, KIDNAPPED, THE AGGRESSION SCALE, MOTHER’S DAY, and scores of others, there are a few things that set YOU’RE NEXT apart from the herd.

First and foremost, this cast is amazing. It’s a veritable who’s who in up and coming horror here, with the aforementioned Larry Fessenden making an early appearance, but also Ti West (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS), Joe Swanberg (A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE), AJ Bowen (A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, RITES OF SPRING, HATCHET II), and Simon Barrett doing double duty as writer of this film and also one of the masked attackers. Joining that talented group of guys are genre great Barbara Crampton in a role that highlights both her ageless beauty and her acting chops and character actor Rob Moran, both of which are meaty and important roles.

But this film also features a breakout role for Sharni Vinson, who proves she can be both kickass and sympathetic all at once. Vinson commands every scene she is in and despite the fact that, unlike the rest of the dynamic cast I recognized and respected, I have never seen her before in anything. She manages to stand head and shoulders above the rest of her costars. I do have to add, in terms of the cast, that Joe Swanberg is gold in every scene he’s in here. His comic timing and deadpan delivery makes me wish he appeared in every movie I see. Some of the funniest moments of this film belong to Swanberg, and while many of us know the writer/director/actor, this may be the film that educates the masses about what we already know about him and why we love him.

You’ll see that I have yet to mention the story, and I really don’t want to. It’s clever. There are twists. There are surprises, though many of which are telegraphed early on and will most likely be caught by savvy viewers. Still, director Adam Wingard keeps everything moving at a breakneck pace and will most likely please the crowd with quite a few genuine scares and well-choreographed scenes of tension and danger. See YOU’RE NEXT. It’s a cut above the rest of the films in its genre.

THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!

#23 – V/H/S/2
#24 – MON AMI

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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