'You're Next' takes odd path to horror

The Fresno BeeAugust 21, 2013 

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Sharni Vinson's character, Erin, shows off her survival skills in horror film "You're Next."

LIONSGATE — LIONSGATE

SAN FRANCISCO — "You're Next" director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are used to the audience reaction to their movie.

There's a look of disappointment when the film starts like so many other horror films — a young couple gets brutally murdered by a mysterious figure just after having sex. Been there. Seen the chopped up bodies.

Then, slowly, the audience realizes that the movie takes a different direction.

"What we wanted to do was set up what looks like a cliched movie to lull you in, and then build to something else," Wingard says.

"We start as one kind of movie and then push into another kind of film that's familiar but something you've not seen before."

Barrett doesn't like movies with quick 90-degree turns because they tend to confuse more than entertain. His change in direction is more gradual.

After a standard horror film opening, the action shifts to a house down the lane where a dysfunctional family has reunited to celebrate an anniversary. A few uninvited guests — their faces hidden by animal masks — turn the event into a struggle for survival.

The filmmaking pair expects people will see the film repeatedly to find clues. Barrett guarantees that even snippets of dialogue are in the movie for a reason — there were no shortcuts to advance the plot.

Sharni Vinson, the Australian model, swimmer, actress and dancer who plays Erin, is an example of how the filmmakers have taken a different tactic in making the movie.

Erin appears to be the good-looking female who often becomes an early victim in horror movies. But when the action heats up, Erin reveals a surprising talent.

That talent made "You're Next" one of the most physically demanding roles Vinson ever has faced. She is happy to have had sports and dancing in her background to help her get through the role.

"I grew up more a professional athlete than before I came into this entertainment field," Vinson says.

"This is the first film where all training has come back to play a big part in this film. That all helped, because when I take on a role, I go at it at full speed."

Those action elements were why Vinson, a longtime fan of the horror genre, kept reading the script past the first few pages.

She also liked how her character becomes central to the story.

"I wanted the opportunity to prove to myself, the producers and everybody that I could make this role come off the page and put to screen what their vision was for the movie," Vinson says.

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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