You’re Next is an adrenaline-fueled cross between detective drama and thriller/slasher film from South African-based filmmaker “LX Seth.” This is not the filmmaker’s first foray into making horror flicks. Arish Sirkissoon, under the moniker “LX Seth,” has made a few previous pictures in the genre, including The Castle (2022) and Tokoloshe: An African Curse (2020).
The movie kicks off as a sort of procedural police drama. Detective Khumalo (S’bonelo Cele) is presented with a case just as a blood-drenched young woman emerges at his police station. The girl, Sandra (Drew Bailie), paints a tangled web of an elaborate story explaining how she came to be covered in blood and such a distressed state. Detective Khumalo cannot detangle the case on his own, so he reaches out to an old friend and fellow detective, Detective Khan (Raj Singh). Together, they begin to dive into the details of the case in hopes of figuring out the bloodied girl’s story.
Sandra begins to explain the events that led up to her situation and her association with the social media “influencer” space online. In an effort for viewers, positive feedback, and monetary sponsorships, a fellow influencer spends a night at a famously creepy and possibly haunting location. After some peculiar behavior and a surprise attack during a livestream, the influencer goes missing. Desperate to find him, Sandra gathers a few other influencer friends to go to the creepy location and investigate for themselves. Following some creepy moments in the house and personal conflicts amongst the group of fellow influencers, it isn’t long before they, too, are in need of help.
“Detective Khumalo is presented with a case just as a blood-drenched young woman emerges…”
The impact of social media and the internet on humanity and the current cultural climate is a hot topic. Recently, a lot of movies, particularly in the horror genre, have been exploring the mediums of social media and the internet for psychological thrills and philosophical questioning. You’re Next takes on this challenge with some success and some mishaps. The plot has a pretty interesting framework; one influencer is hungry for likes, then goes missing, and other influencers seek him out while subconsciously hungry for the same likes and viewership. Unfortunately, this storyline takes too much screen time to develop, making the entire first half pretty slow and lackluster. The final twenty minutes of the film make up for this with plenty of plot lines and surprise twists to satisfy the viewer. But a slow-developing story isn’t all that is holding this movie back.
You’re Next suffers from several technical issues, making this movie a challenging watch. Inconsistent audio balancing leads to entire sections of dialogue that are hard to understand. Visually, the color grading is all over the place; in some cases, shots within the same scene differ in their color grade. Suppose the varying color grading is a stylistic choice whereby the filmmaker intends to distinguish between past and present in the non-linear story structure. In that case, it should be more consistent and require some polish to achieve effectively. As it stands as of writing this review, the color grading makes some scenes difficult to make out, distracting, and overall disorienting for the viewer.
South Africa has a rich history of producing great films. It is encouraging to see independent films like You’re Next hailing from this part of the world. I think by cleaning up technical issues and tightening storylines in the script. There is something to look forward to here with future projects. Give this movie a try if you’re looking for some deep-dive indie horror this Halloween season.
"…she came to be covered in blood..."