BY ANDREW OKE
The overwhelming reason why people watch films isn’t to see explosions or to get a look at their favourite celebrity crush. It isn’t for the score or the cinematography. It isn’t for the visuals or the spectacle. The reason, above every other thing, why people watch a movie is to feel. They want to feel love, hate, joy, excitement, anything. The Grudge is a film that, above all, manages the rather difficult task of not eliciting any shred of emotion upon viewing it. Not a chuckle, not even an eye-roll.
The Grudge is the cinematic equivalent of a taking a saline solution shot to the heart when you’re having a cardiac arrest. It is a nothing.
The Grudge follows the “story” of Kemi and Tayo, a married couple played by Iretiola Doyle and Richard Mofe Damijo respectively. According to the movie, they have been married for only TEN YEARS, exchanging nuptials immediately after graduating from the University of Lagos, even though they look like they have a combined age of about a hundred and twenty. I guess we’re off to a wonderful start. Kemi and Tayo’s marriage is going through a rough patch and they find themselves arguing everyday over unspecified issues and sometimes over nothing at all. Their friend from their university days and Tayo’s current work colleague; Ebere (Funmi Holder) attempts to act as an extremely irritating go-between for the couple, in an attempt to help Kemi and Tayo deal with their issues and patch up their marriage. Ebere goes about helping her friends while she (rather poorly) tries to hide a deep, dark, terrible secret that any audience member with half a brain would predict the moment she walks on screen for the first time: She is in love with Tayo. Exciting, isn’t it?
While the monumental nothing that is the film’s main “story” goes on, an equally disappointing “story” unfolds in order to make sure the film’s audience stays awake throughout its run time. This follows Taju (Odunlade Adekola), an unemployed slacker and an abusive husband to his wife, Chikordi (Ijeoma Aniebo). Taju gets word of a possible job opportunity as a driver in the company that Tayo works in, but after he makes a mess of his interview, Tayo makes sure he doesn’t get the job. On the same day that this happens, Taju’s wife, Chikordi, gets employed by Kemi to be her new house help (Kemi gave the previous help the sack for reasons unknown). When Taju finds out his wife got a job the same day he lost one, he comes to the shockingly idiotic conclusion that she must be a witch and/or a prostitute, after which nothing of importance happens until both “stories” come to a head in a “climax” that can only happen because every single character in the film is a complete imbecile.
What is even more telling is the fact that it seems like the film’s actors, with the exception of Ijeoma Aniebo and Odunlade Adekola, were fully aware that they were playing stupid characters and gave terrible performances to match. This film is rife with poor acting performances, but none of them can come close to the performance of Richard Mofe Damijo, who at all times acted as if he would rather be anywhere else in the world. Richard Mofe Damijo’s performance was not only bad, it was shocking, and the fact that Yemi Morafa, who claims to be a real life film director stood behind a camera, saw him give the performance that he gave and decided that it was good enough to be in any film not made by first year film students is simply appalling.
At every narrative turn and at every supposed revelation in this film, you (the audience) are left feeling absolutely nothing. I saw the frustration in the eyes of patrons who paid actual money to see this film and at that moment, I understood why films like 30 Days in Atlanta or A Trip to Jamaica attract huge crowds at cinemas across the country. It is because most of the other films on offer are different variations of the same soulless film. To them it doesn’t matter whether the film is good or bad as long as it makes them feel something, so they’ll flock to a 30 Days in Atlanta or A Trip to Jamaica, because the alternative; The Grudge, is the filmic equivalent of nothing.
IRETIOLA DOYLE – Kemi
RICHARD MOFE DAMIJO – Tayo
ODUNLADE ADEKOLA – Taju
FUNMI HOLDER – Ebere
IJEOMA ANIEBO – Chikordi