2013 SFIFF: You’re Next & Museum Hours
Throughout the first week of SFIFF, as I walked, drove, and BARTed my way around the city, there was one thing I heard more than anything else from fellow festival-goers—“You need to see You’re Next!” No other film at the festival garnered such buzz, which compelled me to check it out, though I was positive the film couldn’t live up to the hype. Just like always (ask my wife), I was wrong. Adam Wingard’s indie-horror kill-fest blew me away with its watch-through-your-fingers scares and creative kills.
The plot of You’re Next isn’t groundbreaking—a rich, sweater-wearing family is attacked in their cushy vacation home by psycho killers with crossbows wearing animal masks that look like they were bought at a Party America Halloween sale. It’s creepy stuff, but again—nothing groundbreaking. What makes this movie so effective and feel so fresh is that the bloody massacre is supported by sound, savvy filmmaking by Wingard.
Unfortunately, most horror films exchange artistry for mindless gore, but You’re Next makes no such compromise. Some of the kills (there’s a load of ‘em) have been seen before in older, more popular films, but here they feel extra violent and hit with a bone-rattling jolt. The film’s focus is on extreme, visceral violence, not gore. The sharp editing and flawless sound design are the keys to achieving such raw levels of intensity.
The cast, a tight-knit troupe of indie directors (Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Ti West), give excellent, ego-less performances (Seimetz is hilarious), and it was surely a huge asset for Wingard to have such talent on hand. Over the past few months, I’ve been touched and moved by some of the cast members’ artsy, weighty films, so it was a lot of fun to watch them run wild in such a crazy, brutal movie. It’s fantastic news that the film is finally being released (it’s been in studio-limbo since 2011), and I can’t wait for you all to see it. Time to sack up, folks.
An American woman (Mary Margaret O’Hara) is called to Austria to visit an ailing friend, and while visiting the Vienna’s world famous Kunsthistorisches Museum, meets Johann (Bobby Sommer), a genial patrolman. The two quickly become friends and engage in a days-long, existential discussion that leads to endless self-discovery. The museum and the snow-blanketed city feel unstuck from the world, a sanctuary for the two to explore and mold each other through the art they ponder and the life experiences they exchange. As they make their deep connection, mortality looms in the form of Anne’s dying friend.
The brilliant works of art in Museum Hours are beautifully captured (jaw-dropping), and director Jem Cohen and DP Peter Rohsler echo the immense artistry of the art in their gorgeous cinematography. Every damn shot is breathtaking and immaculately composed. Cohen intermittently cuts in thoughtfully selected close-ups of paintings, which jogs our memory and emotions. It’s completely engaging and makes this movie not only thoughtful, but sensual. Sommer and O’Hara move effortlessly throughout the film, endearing us to them with every passing moment. Their relationship feels real and isn’t easily defined. There’s something uniquely charming about the way Sommer speaks and holds himself. His voice carries empathy and wisdom, and his monologues feel as profound as the museums’ works, though he carries no pretension. Of all the films at SFIFF, this is the prettiest I’ve seen.
Stay Tuned to Way Too Indie for our full reviews of You’re Next and Museum Hours.