The long-delayed “You’re Next” is a perfect capper to a summer filled with chilling horror flicks. The home invasion thriller has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. This smart, twisty story of a family gathering interrupted by a brutal attack is executed with a sharply off-kilter sense of humor and a strong ensemble cast led by AJ Bowen, Barbara Crampton and Sharni Vinson.
The Alamo Drafthouse brought Crampton and Bowen to Austin as part of a promotion for “You’re Next,” and The Daily Texan sat down with them for an interview.
The Daily Texan: What has it been like waiting for two years for this film to come out?
Barbara Crampton: In the beginning, it felt like it was never gonna happen. I think we all thought the worst at different times, that it’ll sit on a shelf and it won’t come out. So we were all kind of depressed, to be honest. After a while, we just let it settle and stopped thinking about it, and then when we got the call a year ago that they’re gonna release it on this date, we all started to get a little bit excited about it. And then they started with the campaign, and we got more excited. They’ve been so overwhelmingly positive with their marketing and the responses have been great, so we are just thrilled right now.
DT: What have you been up to since the movie wrapped?
AJ Bowen: We wrapped the picture seven-and-a-half years ago … (laughs). We did shoot it two and a half years ago, and I’ve continued to work in indie film.
About a year ago now, we found out it was going to come out Aug. 23. Even though this is an indie film, the way that it’s been treated by Lionsgate is very different. So it’s been fascinating to watch the viral marketing. It’s been fascinating to see TV spots show up on TV channels, not at one in the morning, not alongside ads for Propecia, just like a prime-time slot. This is the part that, as actors, we don’t have that much to deal with, so I went back into making other movies … and stalking Barbara.
DT: You’ve worked with Adam before on “A Horrible Way to Die.” What’s it like seeing his style develop over a couple of films?
Bowen: I think that Adam has a photographer’s mind. I remember, when we did “A Horrible Way to Die,” it was very freeing because I never saw a tripod the whole time. I never knew where the camera was going to be, and that means I never really had a mark to hit. I just had to be present, and as a performer, that was one of the most freeing experiences I’d ever had.
With “You’re Next,” we had Steadyrigs and some dollies, but for me, I found it was still presence and emotional immediacy between the characters. We’d know that there were kind of sticking spots, like I’m gonna land here, but as a performer we would have the freedom to kind of explore and take our own path to getting to that endpoint.
Crampton: I feel like you had to be ready at all times, in case Adam saw something that he liked. Occasionally, he would grab the camera from him if he saw something he liked and would say, “Get that!” At one point of this scene we were doing in the hallway that was particularly sad and emotional and I was sort of getting ready for the scene, as were a few other actors, and he said, “This is too good to waste.” They weren’t even ready with the lights, but all of a sudden he was in my face with a camera filming me. I just kept going with whatever I was doing, and I’m not sure if that actually made it onscreen or not, but you always had to be ready if he saw something he liked.
Bowen: A lot of directors choose to edit their own films and lots of times I think that it’s a mistake. I can’t say that about Adam. He’s editing in this discovery period that Barbara’s talking about. The movie, what’s playing in his head while we’re getting ready to shoot, is changing based on what he’s seeing, and it’s being edited right then in his mind.
DT: One of my favorite things about watching a horror movie in theaters is watching the crowd react to everything. This one is definitely a blast. What is your favorite part about watching the film with a crowd?
Bowen: I’ve watched it with a crowd every time it’s played in Austin, so it’s awesome to be back here and know we’re playing tonight. I’ve seen it twice, once at Fantastic Fest and once at South By Southwest. I enjoy the beginning of the movie, the first time the Dwight Tooley song kicks in, you see the liquor and the orange juice. I’m a tactile person when it comes to watching things. I love Tarantino for a specific reason — everybody that eats food in his movies. Nobody’s ever had food that tastes that good.
There’s a tactile feel to the beginning of “You’re Next” that lets an audience member in and you can feel them turn, right at the beginning, and start feeling like it’s OK to laugh. That also means it’s OK for them to be scared. I can’t talk about my other favorite one, because it’s spoiler territory, but I had someone in the last Austin crowd yell, “Aw, hell no!” That was a special moment.