Noteworthy Heroines of Horror is a recurring segment on Wicked Horror where we shine the spotlight on a female character from the annals of horror history that has made a significant contribution to the genre. The characters we select may not be the obvious final girls that regularly grace top ten lists, but their contributions to the genre are meaningful and worthy of note.
The first meeting with your significant other’s parents is usually difficult and nerve-wracking. And it can be made even worse if, at your first dinner, there is a group of masked killers with crossbows shooting arrows at you through the windows. This is the situation in which our latest Noteworthy Heroine of Horror finds herself in Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard’s home invasion film You’re Next. Nice girl Erin is portrayed by Aussie Sharni Vinson in the film, and though she may not look it, she shows everybody that she is the toughest of the group and more than capable of handling herself.
In a cast of characters where practically everyone is unlikable or annoying, Erin easily becomes the one toward which the audience is drawn. She is beautiful, but her look and demeanor are far more approachable than that of the stuffy Kelly or hard Zee. On top of that, Erin is just a genuinely nice and sweet person. When she and her boyfriend Crispian arrive at the house, Erin must comfort his mother who is standing outside while the father checks for intruders upstairs. Erin is concerned, and doesn’t seem uncomfortable with the situation like others might be. Later on, she offers her assistance in the kitchen and to get milk from a neighbor. There is an adorable part of the dinner table scene where, in the midst of Drake belittling Tariq’s job as a filmmaker, Erin and Crispian are just in their own world together, laughing and playing like little kids. There is obvious love and adoration there.
However, the good times don’t last long. The arrows start flying and it seems like chaos is going to reign supreme. But while the other females can’t seem to do much more than stand around and scream, Erin does an amazing job at keeping her cool and actually takes a commanding voice over the whole group. She has opinions and ideas and is not afraid to voice them, and it is probably because of this that everybody actually listens to her. It is Erin’s idea to use the chairs as shields, to secure the upstairs right away, to try texting 911 (because of course the phones don’t work), and to move the injured people out of harm’s way. Later she shows that her skills actually go far beyond this – setting up booby traps with boiling water and nail-studded boards, and an elaborate device over the front door that involves a falling axe.
Erin reveals to Zee that the reason she has so much knowledge is because she grew up on a survivalist compound in the Outback with her father. It seems she also learned some very useful physical skills while she was there, which allows her to totally kick ass in her fight scenes. Her first kill is Tiger Mask. She avoids his axe strike and kicks him in the crotch before butchering him with a meat tenderizer, going for killing blows only and not stopping until the job is done. While Erin is upstairs discovering Crispian’s father’s dead body, Fox Mask slowly advances on her with a machete. But it only takes her a few seconds to make the bold decision to jump out the window to escape. She continually makes smart moves that give her the advantage in the fight, like when she encounters Fox Mask again and tricks him with the flashing camera. Then she beats his face in with a log.
One of the most strangely admirable things about Erin is her lack of moral complexity in this situation. At first, when it seems like the family is under a random attack, her goal is to use her skills to make sure that everybody is protected. However, once she overhears a conversation that reveals who really responsible for the murders and why, this really lights a fire inside of her that makes the situation about payback instead of just survival. The way she looks at the dead bodies of the innocent victims, like Crispian’s father and Aimee, shows her compassion and her disapproval of senseless killing. Unfortunately for the bad guys, her compassion does not extend to the guilty–not even to the person with whom she was the closest. Her last few kills are therefore the most up close and personal, as she uses steak knives and blenders in ways you may not have thought possible.
Erin is an all-around perfect horror heroine. She’s kind and sweet without being a pushover, and is able to make her voice heard. Her convenient upbringing is a big part of what helps her become the final girl of You’re Next, but she earns major respect points with her unwavering determination and the brutality with which she executes her kills. In fact, her kill count in the movie is higher than that of the actual hired killers, which makes her all the more awesome. Erin from You’re Next is a particularly Noteworthy Heroine of Horror and a major badass.