You’re Next (2013)

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Comedy

Director: Adam Wingard

Writers: Simon Barrett

Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen

Rating: ★★★½

You’re Next was a horror that stormed the UK in 2013 despite being a big success when released in the Toronto Film Festival of 2011. Despite the long awaited-release Barrett’s thrilling creation doesn’t disappoint too much. A somewhat refreshing and unique approach to the stereotypical home-invasion thriller, You’re Next is a twisty horror with a mountain of gore and action which consequently leads to an entertaining watch.

The story surrounds the Davison family on the night of a big-reunion and getaway to celebrate the wedding anniversary of their parents. Arguments and bitter family grudges between brothers soon set the tone for an uncomfortable night which then becomes a nightmare. When a group of animal-masked, crossbow and axe-wielding murderers invade on the get together things turn bloody and gory quickly as one by one the family and guest numbers slowly decrease. However an unlikely member of the party proves to be the best and most brutal killer of them all as she takes matter into her own hands alongside a kitchen knife.

It is hard to go into too much detail of the story without giving away any spoilers, but the events and torture lead for an exciting night. The story is entertaining as said, but in terms of predictability and surprises it is awful in a sense, from the beginning I guessed what was happening and the ending came as no surprise, but I can see some watchers blinded by this and falling for the twists and turns of the narrative. However as a horror the gore is great along with the mass murders and the way in which they are each killed. The animal masked-murderers were a unique and refreshing take being something I haven’t really seen before, effective as it was it would have been nice to keep a bit more mystery and prolong the suspense. As a home-invasion thriller it was respectful too, with the story involving a family get together much more impacting and entertaining than a lonely couple in the middle of nowhere.

For an almost unknown cast and crew You’re Next stands its ground very well especially amongst other horror releases in 2013. Sharni Vinson as Erin, the trained killer guest is entertaining and provides good action, however her character is a little too much on the nose and literal but it’s one you will just have to go along with. There are as many faults with this release as there are positives at times but I think it balances out to be enjoyable. There a rare few moments that thrill, however when we are only following the one character instead of the whole family it makes for a much more tense watch and experience. Adam Wingard at times shows promising signs of excellence as his clever direction creates a few jumps and anxious moments.

The make-up and effects department areas also deserve some kudos and respect as the gore and physical horror was a highlighting aspect as blood splatters, heads rolling and knifes flying made a much more entertaining watch. In a summary that’s what it comes down to for You’re Next, it is although not amazing and a work-of-art a very entertaining film. Despite obviously having flaws there weren’t any moments you wanted to give up and turn off as surprisingly you were hooked, as little as it might have been. Gore galore, and thrills a rarity You’re Next isn’t exactly a must-see but a worth-while enjoyable horror.

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The Place Beyond The Pines (2013)

Genre: Crime, Drama

Directors: Derek Cianfrance

Writers: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio , Darius Marder

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes

Rating: ★★★★★

The Place beyond the Pines was a film that slipped past my radar in early 2013 but it soon became top of my “must-see” list after seeing it top many “Best of the Year lists”. It is safe to say those plaudits were spot on as many aspects of Derek Cianfrance’s release are flawless. Following a fantastically written story which has been executed equally as good, it is further topped off by a great casting ensemble. The Place beyond the Pines is a film that is totally entertaining, and leaves you reflecting days after which again adds to its brilliance.

We follow the life of Luke (Ryan Gosling) a dreamy motorcycle stunt rider, rebellious and dangerous we quickly form a bond routing for our protagonist. On a circuit tour living the carnival life he performs in the New York town of Schenectady, where he then attempts to reunite with his previous lover Romina (Eva Mendes). Secretly and unknowingly to Luke, Romina has recently given birth to his son, in an act of courage Luke makes a bold decision to quit riding and settle, providing for his new family. Obstacles soon appear for Luke as he has to fight for Romina and his child with new lover Kofi whilst his new wage earned being a mechanic is staggeringly low. Turning to a life of crime to support his family giving them a life and experience he always wanted, Luke robs a series of banks.

However his life as bank robber soon puts him on the path with ambitious and eager police officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).  Looking for a quick way up the ranks Avery has to battle within his department as well as out, as it is riddled with a set of corrupt superiors. Luke’s and Avery’s path of sin and trouble soon changes their lives for the worse. Forwarding into the future we then see how these past sins haunt a pair of high school boys trying to accept the legacy they inherited. As life once again proves to be more than complicated the only refuge is a place beyond the pines.

The story is one that still amazes me for many reasons, the element of realism and the outside perspective of a “ripple effect” are somewhat brilliant, but the top of the list is how well executed The Place beyond the Pines is. It left me reflecting how past actions have affected the present and even the future of my life. The way this drama unfolds is also truly brilliant, there’s at no point a dull moment and I was kept entertained and intrigued throughout. The characters and the development were flawless too, Ryan Gosling’s Luke was our hero, the true “anti-hero” in an aspect, and scenes where he played with his son and attempted to put together new cots were actually and surprisingly pleasant. Then when we switched to follow the life of Cooper’s Avery we found a new hero and events to be entertained by.

The casting ensemble was also great and deserves much applause and credit. Gosling played his dreamy Luke brilliantly likewise with Cooper and his Avery. Eva Mendes although a slightly more back-grounded character still portrayed and captured an excellent performance, with all three characters really inspiring and connecting with us. Derek Cianfrance directing was a real highlight too, with many shots being awe-inspiring whilst all scene’s emotions were really heightened to full potential and impact. On a final note and a deserved mention was the score which provided an equal amount of entertainment with Bon Iver’s The Wolves and Mark Patton’s Snow Angel becoming new favourites.

In a whole The Place beyond the Pines left me feeling very entertained and thoughtful and upon reflection the film is flawless with every aspect executed well and interacting together brilliantly. I am surprised this release even slipped past my radar and didn’t become a much talked about huge success. To say The Place beyond the Pines is a “must-see” is a given, and I can only hope that it has the same remarkable impact on everyone else.