Fela (Chidozie Sambasa Nzeribe) is bitten by a staggering neighbour played by Paul Utomi. He becomes ill and soon enough there is an epidemic in the neighbourhood caused by one ‘infected person’, biting another. Romero (Gabriel Afolayan) and his neighbours, Emeka (Kelechi Udegbe) and Peju (Omowunmi Dada), battle to end the scourge.
C.J Obasi’s zombie film takes the viewer through a squalid ‘world’ where he or she can empathize with the have-nots who live from day-to-day, wondering where their next meal will be coming from. The antics, mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of the characters are in line with the behavioural patterns of indigent people on the streets. The cast are excellent performers.
The invention of “yunk” for sex, the refuse heaps seen everywhere in the neighbourhood are sad reminders of the unhygienic condition under which many Nigerians live. The director’s style of employing Voice Over whilst the viewer watches the action as it plays out is ingenious.
The decision to employ Pidgin English as the language of the film is appropriate. Also laudable is the fact that there is an English subtitle. The story gradually builds to a crescendo, employing several dramatic techniques and raising the stakes as the conflict becomes more intense.
A few matters arise from the film. Why is Fela (Chidozie Nzeribe) made to speak in a manner similar to the way he spoke in A Mile from Home? When Alero serves Emeka rice, why didn’t she give him a spoon; is it to tell us they are so poor, they cannot afford a spoon? The sex scene between Aisha and Mfon Brutus Richard’s character is too long. A number of other scenes also appear to be longer than necessary. Alero’s pregnancy is badly arranged. The gory details of the attacks by the zombies are quite graphic and could have been deemphasized.
Undeniably, it is far-fetched to amplify the lack of potable water in a community, bad as it is, to the transformation of humans to zombies.
Ojuju is an appreciably well-told story on a genre, which Nollywood has barely explored and has given the director continental and international recognition; though it will be recalled that Aquila Njamah’s The Untold (Emeka Ike, Hank Anuku, Empress Njamah) is a worthy elder brother to Ojuju. The Untold is the story of a diabolical cleric, Pastor Damian, who terrorizes a community from his grave.
Ojuju won the Best Nigerian film award at the 2014 Africa International Film Festival, AFRIFF; gave Obasi the Trailblazer Award at the 2015 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards, AMVCA and has been accepted in the official selection of a number of international film festivals.
As Nollywood eagerly awaits O–Town, Obasi’s sophomore film, it is apparent that this fast-rising film-maker; who participated at the Script Junction Programme on the sidelines of the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June, 2015; will make an abiding impact in Nollywood.