is no greater public health crisis than a zombie apocalypse. In this case, it
is directly linked to a contaminated water supply, but high population density,
unprotected sex, and some wicked strong weed are also contributing factors. Once
infection takes hold, it runs like wildfire through a Lagos slum in C.J. “Fiery”
Obasi’s Ojuju (trailer here), which screens
during the 2015 New Voices in Black Cinema at the BAM Rose Cinemas.
think Romero (hat tip intentional) is a little strange, because the slacker
actually seems to be serious about fulfilling his obligations to his highly pregnant
girlfriend, Alero. Nobody is more confused by this then his former hook-up
Aisha, but his buddies Emmy and Peju also have a hard time adjusting to his
domestic bliss. Alas, it is not to last.
first victim we see fall prey to the shufflers will be Fela, the local drug
dealer, who has been selling some particularly potent product lately. He also
samples the wares more than he should, so the strange figure staggering towards
him just doesn’t set off the alarm bells it should. Inevitably infected, he and
his crony begin the feverish process of transformation, despite the local
prostitute’s efforts to care for his mystery illness. Soon, nearly the entire
neighborhood except Romero, Emmy, and Peju are part of the shuffling horde. Unfortunately,
there are limited egress points for the largely self-contained slum, so getting
out of Dodge will be a tricky proposition.
who might be expecting the weird Evangelical perspective often reflected in
Nollywood films can just forget it. Ojuju
will not begrudge its socially disadvantaged characters a little sin while
the sinning is good. Everyone tokes up a little to get by, even the incredibly
foul-mouthed adolescent known simply as “the Kid.” What really makes the zombie
(or ojuju) outbreak so devastating are the hard facts of life in a Nigerian
slum. Obasi gives us a vivid sense of what they are like, including the
bottleneck exit and the razor wire encircling it.
Ojuju was obviously shot on a
micro-budget, the gritty, low-fi aesthetic nicely suits the zombie genre. Obasi
delivers enough gore to mollify genre fans, but the sweaty, claustrophobic vibe
is what really generates the mounting dread. He also tacks on a long, almost
entirely unrelated coda, but it largely works as a short film in its own right,
so just consider it a bonus.
nicest surprise is the ensemble’s professionalism. Ranging from solidly
presentable to legitimately polished, they are consistent in a good way, with
Gabriel Afolayan and Chidozie Nzeribe particularly intense standouts as Romero
and Fela, respectively. Making a virtue of its rough edges, Obasi exceeds
expectations for his scrappy upstart zombie film. Recommended for undead fans, Ojuju screens this Friday (3/27) at BAM,
as part of this year’s New Voices in Black Cinema.
Labels: New Voices in Black Cinema '15, Nollywood, Zombies