With lurid color, wild plot turns, and a thumping, party-ready soundtrack, Abba Makama’s The Lost Okoroshi weaves a compelling narrative around what could be a tired trope
Being chased by literal manifestations of your anxieties in a dream might be a tired trope, but Abba Makama’s second film manages to weave an entire narrative around it. Raymond (Seun Ajayi) spends his dreams running from a figure in a traditional Okoroshi mask, awaking daily to his mundane life in a security job at a corporate office.
His way out of the domestic boredom is to be transformed magically one morning, as though he was Gregor Samsa, into the very Okoroshi spirit that stalks his dreams! What begins as an insular film suddenly opens up, Raymond spilling out onto Lagos streets in costume, causing mischief in a series of unrelated sketches which form a portrait of modern Nigeria. Shot for maximum impact, between the lurid color, wild plot turns, and thumping, party-ready soundtrack — The Lost Okoroshi has the potential to cross over to a wider, youth-oriented audience.
That success might depend on your patience with Makama’s ironic use of the Nollywood metier: that surveillance-camera aesthetic, bending space from the corner of a room. Mannered, expressive acting full of elongated gestures that draw out time, lulls the viewer into eruptions of violence. The ending, in a wink to Psycho, even goes so far as to have a new character verbally explain the themes of shifting national consciousness. The willful abruptness of this last scene might not be entirely satisfying in the moment, but it’s a funny and fitting conclusion for a film about the messiness of modern African identity.
Still seeking distribution in the US, UK, and Canada
Screens 9/15 at 6:45 p.m. (Scotiabank Theatre). Tickets here.