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One weird part of my job is when I walk into a room to conduct what is meant to be a formal interview, but the person sitting across from me is someone I have an entirely informal relationship with. You can't live and work in Los Angeles for 23 years without making a number of friends in the industry, and it's even harder to avoid if you spend a good percentage of your year attending film festivals.
I first saw AJ Bowen in "The Signal," and in the years since, he's shown up in a number of films that i like, sometimes in main roles, sometimes showing up for one or two memorable moments. Several years ago, though, he and I started to see each other more frequently because of our mutual friend Aaron. Aaron's house is the place I stay any time I go to Austin for a festival, and AJ started coming to many of the same festivals and also staying with Aaron.
By far, the finest moment so far in our friendship came before either Fantastic Fest 2013 or this year's SXSW, when I texted AJ to ask if I was going to see him in Austin. He texted me back, "Already warming up the bed in the master bedroom," which made me laugh. It seemed less hilarious to my wife, who had trouble believing that "AJ" was a dude. Honestly, I'm not sure it helped when I convinced her that he was indeed a guy, because she found that suggestion even more upsetting.
When he's not burning my marriage to the ground, AJ has been very busy recently, and in addition to "You're Next," which opens on August 23, he's got a major role in the Toronto premiere "The Sacrament," and I'm dying to see "Synchronicity," a science-fiction film from Jacob Gentry, who made "The Signal" with AJ. I think "You're Next" could be the beginning of bigger things for Bowen. It's the right performance in the right film, and I think it's a good showcase of his left-of-center sense of humor and personality.
It should also do well for Sharni Vinson, who plays Bowen's girlfriend in the film. She's not part of his extended family, and the weekend trip they take to the country is meant to be her introduction to everyone else. When masked killers begin to pick off family members one by one, Vinson turns out to be the fly in the ointment, a trained survivor who doesn't seem terribly interested in being anyone's punching bag.
Sitting down to talk to both AJ and Sharni last week, I wanted to discuss the long road "You're Next" took from its festival premiere two years ago to a nationwide release by Lionsgate a week from today. I wanted to talk to Sharni about the remake of "Patrick" that she starred in as well, and this was before I learned that it was going to be playing this year's Fantastic Fest.
In the end, I think interviewing a friend has an inherent possible problem. It's very easy to go from having a funny conversation to just speaking in inside jokes, and with AJ, I feel like every conversation is part of a larger ongoing joke. Hopefully you'll get some sense of the chemistry between AJ and Sharni, and I strongly urge you to check the film out next week.
"You're Next" opens everywhere August 23, 2013.