Potential horror sleeper 'You're Next' acquired by Lionsgate
The Toronto International Film Festival often yields a horror movie that hadn't been on any mainstream radar but goes on to become a hit after it plays the confab. Last year that movie was "Insidious," James Wan's supernatural tale about a family that moves into what proves to be a haunted house .
It's still a little too soon to anoint this year's genre breakout. But one strong contender is shaping up to be "You're Next," a low-budget movie that played the festival's coveted Midnight Madness section and has drawn strong reviews.
On Wednesday morning, Lionsgate announced that it had acquired the movie and will bring it to theaters at an as-yet unspecified date. Acquisitions executive Jason Constantine said in a statement that 'Next" "represents everything that we look for in a horror film." The studio, of course, is the company behind the "Saw" franchise and other horror mainstays.
Directed by the previously little-known horror director Adam Wingard from a screenplay by Simon Barrett, "Next" tells the story of a young man (A.J. Bowen) and his girlfriend (Sharni Vinson) who head to a vacation house for a family reunion only to find violent dangers lurking. Unlike a traditional horror film, where passive victims are picked off one by one, however, this one sees the victims fight back in ways that, according to several Web reviews, are both brutal and funny.
Respected fan site Hitfix even compares the movie to "Scream" because of the way it can play to hard-core horror fans as well as a mainstream audience. "The film is fiendishly clever in the way it springs its various surprises, and the cast manages to make this feel legitimately life-and-death, but also keeps it light and funny."
The Hitfix reviewer also said (before any negotiations came to light) that he's expecting a bit of a breakout. " I'd put a little money down on the notion that you'll get to see this one sooner rather than later, and in a real theater. A little bit of post-production sweetening to smooth off some of the rough technical edges could help," he writes. "and this could be a lovely small-scale sensation."
— Steven Zeitchik
Photo: "You're Next." Credit: Toronto International Film Festival.