SA horror Tokoloshe works, for the most part

2018-11-02 10:34

Director: Jerome Pikwane
Starring: Petronella Tshuma, Kwande Nkosi
. . . - -

We don’t get much in the way of local horror movies, so Tokoloshe was intriguing to me. I’m sure you’re familiar with these supernatural beings that are said to terrorise your sleep with their demented antics. This movie attempts to bring this idea to the big screen, and for the most part it works.

Busi (Petronella Tshuma) is a young woman trying her best to survive in Joburg. She gets a job as a cleaner at an old and almost derelict hospital, run by the unsavoury Ruatomin (Dawid Minnaar), who attempts to take advantage of Busi. To make matters worse, a tokoloshe is terrorising Gracie (Kwande Nkosi), one of the children in the ward.

One night when Busi is working the graveyard shift the tokoloshe attacks on Gracie get particularly severe and Busi decides to take the child with her to her Yeoville apartment. Little does she know that the tokoloshe will follow them there.

The movie’s tone is suitably moody, but I did feel the film makers were trying to do too much. Grace still suffers from the trauma of being molested as a child and they build this element into the film with mixed results.

The ending is effective though, and things culminate in a way that will shock you. Keep an eye out for small details in the background. The quality of this film is of a high standard and the story was tight. The building they use as Busi’s Yeoville apartment has always been one that has interested me and it brings to light just what this city has to offer in terms of film settings.

The inclusion of veterans Yule Masiteng and Minnaar provides the dialogue scenes with some much-needed experience and meticulous delivery. I also salute Tshuma as I’ve never seen her more invested in a role, and I’m sure that has to do with the writer and directors allowing her to tackle a piece as refreshing as this, especially from a local standpoint.

This may not be as pioneering as the work of someone like Alfred Hitchcock, but it’s a creative step in South African film making and I dig it.

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April 5 2020