You’re Next (2023) Review

You’re Next opens with a young woman running for her life through the South African night., luckily for her, she runs right past a police station. Her name is Sandra (Drew Baillie) and she’s an influencer, but right now she’s not saying anything. Detective Khumalo (S’bonelo Cele) is convinced this is connected to Xavier Knight (Arish Sirkissoon, Tokoloshe: An African Curse) a serial killer who is stalking the area. He calls the now retired Detective Khan (Raj Singh) who, much to his wife’s annoyance, cuts his vacation short and flies back to Durban.

I’m not sure how the police system works in South Africa, but I found it odd that by the time Khan flies back from wherever he was at, Sandra is still smeared with blood and hasn’t been given a chance to wash up. He then starts trying to reach the girl who is obviously in shock by threatening her with jail for killing her missing friends. That, of course, works, and we see her friend Brandon (Connor Leven) head to an allegedly haunted house hoping to make some money to pay off some gambling debts. He should have taken his chances with the bookies.

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Director Sirkissoon and his co-writer Singh set up a pretty basic slasher plot for You’re Next’s first hour. Sandra and a few of Brandon’s other friends drive out to the house, talking about another of Sirkissoon’s films, The Castle on the way, to try and find his body. You know this will not end well.

There’s the usual stumbling around in the dark, inanimate objects that move on their own, and the first of them to die does so right after lighting a joint. There are also the usual self-aware comments, like Ari (Edwin Cole) proclaiming, “I’m Indian, I know I’ll die first.”.

Then in the last half hour, the film adds an element of police thriller as well. Acting on Sandra’s story, a team of detectives head to the house looking for clues they expect will link the deaths to Knight. Instead, the case takes a couple of unexpected twists.

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The main problem with You’re Next will be obvious within its first few minutes, some of the acting is dire. Most of the cast have no other credits, and I’m willing to believe they’re friends of the director who were willing to work cheaply. While most are at least tolerable, there are some who look and sound as if they’re reading from cue cards. If they were overacting and chewing the scenery, that could at least be amusing. This is just the opposite, however.

Combined with a generic plot and a lack of effects and/or nudity to distract you from its shortcomings, the first hour of You’re Next never manages to rise above watchable. The last half hour is anything but predictable, as the filmmakers throw an almost nonstop barrage of plot twists at the viewer. Those twists range from inspired to ridiculous, but it is fun watching the writers keep finding ways to further complicate the story until literally the last frame in the film.

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If the rest of the film had shown this kind of inventiveness, You’re Next could have been a lot more fun. Even making more use of South African culture or folklore to help make it different from all the other slashers out there would have helped. Apart from the accents, this could be a generic straight to streaming American film. And we don’t need more of them, do we?

You’re Next has been released in its native South Africa, with plans to release it elsewhere in the coming months.

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