Every once in a while I find a film that’s been completely off my zombie radar. Ojuju was one of those films, and while I didn’t understand all of the dialogue, that understanding wasn’t necessary for my enjoyment. Give it a shot and let me know how you liked it!
Romero is at a crossroads. News of his girlfriend’s pregnancy has motivated him to make good of his life, but something strange is happening in his neighborhood. The local water supply has been tainted causing people to suddenly manifest symptoms of rabid river blindness. Romero recruits his friends Emmy and Peju to get to the bottom of the epidemic in a race against time for their own survival. A micro-budget zombie film that combines genre flairs with the ethnographic details of a Lagos slum, the premise of contamination in a county where 70 million Nigerians lack access to clean water transcends horror, registering Ojuju as social allegory. C. J. Obasi’s first feature film premiered at Eko International Film Festival, the Pan African Film Festival and the African International Film Festival, where it won Best Nigerian Film.
My Rating: B+
Interesting Facts: The lead character’s name “Romero” played by Gabriel Afolayan is in homage to George A. Romero, one of the masters of the genre; C.J. “Fiery” Obasi who had been visiting a friend in the slum location began to develop a story based on the unique features of the area, such as its one-exit in, one-exit out feature, as well as the fact that the area had only one source of water where everyone fetched from (Obasi felt that based on the premise which through a recent UNICEF report had placed half the population of Nigeria as not having access to clean drinking water, and listing toxic contaminations as the majority of the cause of this water population, it was feasible enough to create a story that affected the common Nigerian); and in an interview, Obasi said he chose the name “Ojuju” because he didn’t want to use the word “zombies” in any manner or form as regards the project (He felt that if such an outbreak were to occur in the slums of Lagos, they would hardly use the word “Zombies” to describe it. Obasi felt it would be more realistic to eliminate any and all supernatural elements to the plot, and localize a well-known and celebrated pop-culture (zombie) for the Nigerian environment, rather than trying to do a Hollywood-version of what a zombie film ought to be. The entire film is in Pidgin English, Yoruba and Igbo).