PRIME on Netflix is a thriller from South Africa. Unfortunately, it would’ve been better off as a short film. Also, I was not a fan of the handheld camera which didn’t help. Read our full Prime (2023) movie review here!
PRIME is a new Netflix thriller from South Africa. Depending on whether you read the plot on Netflix or IMDb, you’re expectations will surely differ wildly. Unfortunately, for both me and the movie, I read the one on Netflix.
Whichever plot you’re expecting, the execution of this movie would’ve been better for a short film. It’s simply far too slow, heavy-handed on the symbolism, and doesn’t come across with all the passion, I’m sure the filmmaker made it with.
Continue reading our Prime (2023) movie review below. Find it on Netflix from January 3, 2024.
A story of trauma and prejudice
Marius is quick to push away his loving partner, Thembi, when his racist father dies. His own unwillingness to forgive his father starts causing him actually to lose his mind. His mother took her own life, which Marius’ father could’ve prevented. This is years in the past though.
In other words, a lot of old trauma that is suddenly and very quickly all Marius can think of. That part of the story is too forced for my liking. It escalates in no time and he seems to just give up on all reason immediately.
This story of a young man wanting to be nothing like his father somehow makes him seem like he is exactly like his father. In that sense, it’s just sad.
It goes without saying that any story focused on trauma and prejudice won’t be enjoyable to watch. Still, a story focusing on trauma can (or could) offer hope as well. For most of Prime, it’s just a very dark tunnel with a young man who can’t trust his own eyes or mind.
OTHER MOVIES ABOUT TRAUMA
Of course, one is tempted to say, this is all due to an ancient demon. The demon is named Eva and “preys on men’s souls through seduction and manipulation”.
Ahh yes, a story as old as time – or certainly the Bible, which isn’t that old at all – and I am not a fan of these religious-based stories spinning the same lies. Women are always either virgins or whores and all the trouble of men is due to the weakness or intentional evil of women.
A country like South Africa has plenty of issues to deal with. Surely, regurgitating this old story isn’t the most interesting angle for a trauma story?!
A very depressing story
I have no problem with a movie being depressing because the story is dark and/or the characters are going through something terrible. However, there are ways to make such a movie that can speak more or less to the viewer.
Prime (2023) definitely spoke less to me than I would’ve liked. Also, I think Netflix could’ve chosen a much better release date than at the beginning of a new year.
And then there’s the handheld camera and the “bold” lighting choices. They give it an air of Nicolas Winding Refn which also goes for the story with its heavy layer of symbolism. However, neither is nowhere near as strong or efficient.
Watch Prime (2023) on Netflix now!
Thabiso Christopher is the writer and director of this new Netflix addition. This is the feature film debut of Thabiso Christopher, who only has a short film on his IMDb resume prior to this new thriller. The runtime of this feature film is 94 minutes, but it feels much longer!
I feel that Prime shows talent and potential, but the movie needed more work before being ready for a wide release. There’s a “film school project”-vibe to it that doesn’t do much good for it.
I can’t recommend watching this movie because I didn’t enjoy it. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be ready to watch whatever Thabiso Christopher does next. There’s something there that makes me curious, but it needs more work.
Prime is on Netflix from January 3, 2024.
Director: Thabiso Christopher
Writer: Thabiso Christopher
Stars: Richard Gau, Nomsa Twala, Jasmine Hazi, Michael Lawrence Potter, Gérard Rudolf, Llewellyn Cordier
Tormented by the death of his racist father, Marius struggles with increased tension in his relationship with Thembi. Is something sinister at play?