Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Kylie Schachte's "You're Next"

Kylie Schachte is a graduate from Sarah Lawrence College and an active member of the Pitch Wars online community as both an alum & mentor. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, cat, and giant dog.

Here Schachte dreamcasts an adaptation of You're Next, her first novel:
You’re Next is about sixteen-year-old detective Flora Calhoun. When she was a freshman, Flora went out for a run one morning and found the beaten, mutilated body of a classmate. Ever since, she’s been working as a private investigator for the kids at school--solving every kind of case from stolen laptops to cheating significant others. She’s thrown herself into her work as a way to escape those demons of her past, so when her ex-girlfriend Ava McQueen is murdered, Flora knows she must solve the case. But her obsession spirals out of control, and soon Flora & everyone she loves are in danger of becoming next on the killer’s list.

This story is told from Flora’s perspective, so that actor really has to carry the whole movie. Flora is prickly, clever, obsessive, and paranoid. For a while, I couldn’t imagine anyone pulling it off--and then I watched Season 2 of Stranger Things. When I saw Sadie Sink as Max--the skater girl from California--I knew she was the one. She’s young, but she has a lot of gravitas, and I think she could effortlessly slip into Flora’s specific combination of vulnerability, fury, and frantic kinetic energy. I once told a friend, “Flora looks like Sadie Sink if she hadn’t slept in about two weeks, and was running purely on rage & Diet Dr. Pepper.”

Ava McQueen is Flora’s ex-girlfriend and the girl who is murdered at the start of the story. I could totally see Skai Jackson in that role. Ava is a really complicated character--she’s beautiful, popular, and well-known in school for her passionate activism. But as Flora digs deeper into her investigation, she uncovers a more complicated and mysterious version of the girl she thought she knew so well. Skai Jackson has the bubbly confidence to pull off the first part, and that would make for a really interesting, unsettling contrast once the darker secrets begin to emerge.

Cass, Flora’s best friend, has an effortless cool to her, and I think Madison Hu might fit that bill. Flora is a social outcast, but Cass didn’t have to be. She’s well-liked and a talented musician, but she stood by Flora when everyone else abandoned her because she truly believes in the work they do together. Plus I think Madison can sing and play guitar, which is perfect!

The character I struggled the most to cast is Valentine, an underground streetfighter with a complicated past. He’s way too old for the role now, but a young Timothée Chalamet would be the right direction here. Like many of the characters in the book, Valentine is all about duality and contrasts. He fights for a living, but he has a ... let’s just say nontraditional ... background, and his attitude swings from abrasive bravado to a more fragile tenderness. Chalamet has that feral, hungry look that suits Valentine’s character, but he also has a more vulnerable facet that would fit the quieter moments between Valentine and Flora. Valentine has been a fan favorite so far, so if You’re Next is adapted for film, they’ll have to discover someone really wonderful & brand new for that role.

And finally, Flora’s grandfather. He’s ex-CIA, so he needs to have that kind of seriousness to him. But at the same time, he loves to bake and he’s raising Flora and her sister as best as he can in their mother’s absence, so I’d like to see a wry or playful side to him too. It would be fun to see a real heavyweight in the role--maybe Jeremy Irons or Daniel Day Lewis with an American accent?
Visit Kylie Schachte's website.

--Marshal Zeringue