TOKOLOSHE: THE CALLING (aka AN AFRICAN CURSE, 2020)
Directed by Richard Green.
Written by Richard Green, Arish Sirkissoon.
Starring Angela Balkovic, Rubendra Govender, Sanjay Laljith, Lloyd Grant O’Connor, Neerusha Oogorah, Shezi Sibongiseni, Arish Sirkissoon, Roelof Twijnstra, Lwandile Xaba
Find out more about this film here!
Well, this is a fascinating train wreck of a movie. If it’s not an example of a total lack of awareness and technical skill, it might just be a work of genius as TOKOLOSHE: THE CALLING attempts to thread a few different plots together with the loosest of connective tissue. At the beginning of the film, one of the characters claims that she doesn’t understand this story, but maybe, if we experience it together, we might make sense of it. Well, I made it to the end and nope! It doesn’t make a lick of sense.
The film begins without establishing who its characters are or how they are connected. For the life of me, I thought this was a story happening in two different eras, with one a present-day young woman recalls her tragic past when her family spent the summer in a haunted hotel and how it torments her to this day. Then all of a sudden, it looks like it flashes back to tell that story with a young girl and her two parents moving into a hotel on the down season and realizing it is completely haunted. If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like the plot to THE SHINING, then you’re exactly right as the filmmakers lift entire scenes from the classic horror film. Of course, reenacted by thespians without even a skosh of the talent Kubrick’s cast did.
What TOKOLOSHE: THE CALLING is is a collection of images and sounds that only barely fit together sensibly. The camera rarely focuses on people while they are talking and most dialog is forgettable narration that attempts to be cryptic, but only served to push you through to the next scene. This film feels as if it were filmed by one person who doesn’t know much about filmmaking and then given to an editor to fix, but that guy doesn’t know much about filmmaking or editing either. While there are some scenes that might make for some mild creep, most of the shock elements feel like they were lifted from an 80’s goth band music video centerting on creepy dolls, long badly lit hallways, and the occasional bit of animation centering on the face of what looks to be a computer-generated monkey-thing which I think it supposed to represent the Tokoloshe, a fiend of African folklore who shapeshifts and causes great horror to those it curses.
Last year, a film called THE TOKOLOSHE (reviewed here) was released and while it was low fi, it delivered a chilling and personal story of African survival and folklore. This TOKOLOSHE: THE CALLING delivers none of that. I think the only way TOKOLOSHE: THE CALLING can be appreciated is by appreciating it as a cinematic curiosity and that’s about it. Seeing THE SHINING and renting a camera does not make you a filmmaker. Someone needs to tell the makers of TOKOLOSHE: THE CALLING this. This works as something to play in the background while doing something, anything, else.