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African Horror Films: Ojuju (2014)

An amazing feat in technical, cultural and visual genre work, one would be remiss as a horror fan if Ojuju (2014) isn't on your "Need To See" list. An opening trailer that prompts, "70 million Nigerians don't have access to clean drinking water..." only invites you further into a story that's action packed, frightening, and looks to educate an international audience on one of the conditions Nigerian people face that writer/director C.J. "Fiery" Obasi I'm guessing imagined would translate swimmingly (no pun intended) into a rad horror film.

Consider this:

Romero's (Gabriel Afolayan) neighbourhood is in trouble. People are suddenly manifesting symptoms of rabid river blindness. With his friends, Emmy (Kelechi Udegbe) and Peju (Omowunmi Dada) he struggles to understand how the neighbourhood's sole source of water supply could have been infected. However, there's no time to ponder because they all must survive and fight their way through to escape the infested neighbourhood.

With an astute IQ for horror by way of a love for Stephen King and hammer films, Obasi's passion is purely evident within the quickest of cuts as color and angling is our guide into how this outbreak unfolds. Prior to Ojuju in 2012, his horror film Jim & Joan premiered at the Eko International Film Festival and launched his production company, Fiery Film that is currently developing projects with titles like, "A Nigerian Haunting" and "Rant Of How To Make A Kick-ass Movie About Death & Demons Without A Budget" which only prompts more enthusiasm.

Equally without much of a budget, Ojuju's quality is masterful, and raises the bar further by being a well crafted script with characters that are intriguing to watch and actors who understand the multiple roles they play in their relationships with each character.

Omowunmi Dada describing her depiction of Peju as a "fighter" and even "weird" only touches the surface of the myriad of adjectives she uses to relay how complex Peju's position is with her friend Alero (Meg Otanwa), the slums in which they dwell, and the action within the story.

Praise for Ojuju has only begun to abound with a Best Nigerian Film award at the Africa International Film Festival, a stop at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and love from writer/actor Todd Farmer (Jason X). Since it's debut last November, there's no North American release as of yet. Bummer. But for the time being, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes videos to enjoy. Links below!

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