BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
One can foretell a Toyin Abraham production from experience: a few laughs, a disjointed story just for the sake of laughs, a lot(!) of comedians and popular faces who try to force out laughs but fail, melodrama, melodrama, melodrama and a feeling of emptiness. These are things you readily find in Alakada Reloaded, her 2016 film, and so for this, you steel your mind to expect little so you won’t be disappointed.
But The Ghost and the Tout surprises you. Yes, it is still characterized by virtually everything listed above, but it takes an astounding turn eventually: It has a story, a real story you can remember, with people to root and fear for! It is a pleasant development, and for this, you are almost willing to look past its obvious shortcomings.
The Ghost and the Tout is a story of two people from entirely different worlds who meet. Mike comes from affluence, is about to get married to Adunni, has a loyal friend in Dayo and a troublesome but wealthy father. His life is a breeze until he is murdered just days to his wedding. At this point, everyone becomes a suspect.
Isila is a tout who lives in a shanty, has a tough exterior but really cares about people. One day, she rushes out of her man’s house at night and sees the Oro, a masquerade no woman is supposed to see. She begins to experience nightmares from then on, and in her quest for solutions, she meets Mike, who is roaming around as a ghost. Of course, he is shocked she can see him, but she is convinced everyone else can and he is a scam until she begins to get confused for a mad person. She realizes Mike is in need of closure about the cause of his death, and she tries to help him do this until she too is in danger of the same fate.
For the first few minutes into the film, it is a combination of scenes that do nothing for you other than make you wonder if this is just a pile-up of Instagram skits. Continuity is so bad, you find yourself in a maze, wondering who everyone is and why some scenes even exist. Thankfully, the story begins to take shape when Mike dies, and then you realize everything leading up to that moment –well, almost everything– was to establish the main characters and their worlds and realities.
Technically, The Ghost and the Tout feels like a scruffily dressed man who, because he is late to work, wears a rumpled shirt backwards, two ill-fitting shoes of different colours, a tie that is skewed to a side, and pants that don’t hold because there is no belt. The sound is horrible all round, moving from highs to lows and back, some aspects intercepting with others, and sometimes going out of sync with mouth movements. Background music is loud and drowns out actual dialogue, photography dances between great and meh, and too many unexplored elements in the story render it way too spicy.
Still, The Ghost and the Tout gets props for the ingenuity of its story, Isila’s brilliant character, some actually hilarious dialogue, and a lot of relatability with the inclusion of some of our favorite Instagram comedians. When Osas, played by Lasisi Elenu, says “Some’n just happen right now”, you cannot but relate and chuckle. Of course, he overdoes this, as they all eventually do, by saying it again, and then again till we are no longer amused.
The film suffers a terrible conclusion, one that confirms that this entire process must have been rushed through without giving enough time and thought to proper execution. It is like a typical Yoruba film on Africa Magic but sprinkled with a little more seasoning and a fatter budget. The story, while being an original idea, is riddled with so much predictability and a lot of gaping holes in its conclusion.
Isila is played impeccably by Toyin Abraham, Mike by Sambasa Nzeribe, and other actors such as Josh2Funny, Dele Odule, Bobrisky, Chiwetalu Agu, Biodun Stephen, Omowumi Dada, Femi Adebayo, Funky Mallam, Chioma Akpota, Chigul, BayRay McNwizu, Bimbo Ademoye, Ronke Ojo are featured, to mention a few.
The Ghost and the Tout is a big improvement on Alakada Reloaded and all the previously created films by Toyin Abraham in terms of its story and consequent humor, but it still isn’t improvement enough. Attention to detail is key, and one can only hope the filmmaker addresses it in subsequent productions. The film is written by Toyin Abraham with Biodun Stephen listed as both co-writer and assistant director. It is produced by Toyin Abraham and directed by Charles Uwagbai.