For the first time (probably) here I would like to mention a Nigerian horror film. Well, I say horror, but Juju Stories, an anthology movie of three stories, is fairly restrained and focuses more on character than scary incidents. This is a good thing, as is the Nollywood production style i.e. everything on location - real streets, real houses, real restaurants etc. Rules on content mean that there is no gore beyond a glimpse of a bloodied corpse in the distance. This all gives the film a subdued and sometimes very realistic feel.
The film is the work of a collective called Surreal16, and there is definitely a touch of surrealism in all the stories. The first, 'Love Potion', is quite conventional but still holds the attention. Mercy, a single career girl who aspires to be a novelist, wants to find love. She meets the ideal guy at a party, but he's taken. Mercy can't stop thinking about him, though. A friend recommends juju, traditional magic, and after some hesitation concocts a love potion and sneaks it into the tea of her ideal man. This breaks up his existing relationship and then Mercy can have him all to herself. Surely, though, the use of magical methods has a downside? Or will Mercy's amoral approach be rewarded? The plot offers a kind of twist, and director Abbu Makama ends on an image that is refreshingly non-gimmicky.
The second story, 'Yam' is the weirdest. There's an urban legend in Nigeria that picking up lost cash on the sidewalk can lead to the finder turning into a yam. No spoilers here, this is stated at the outset. Suffice to say that this does indeed happen, and the normal course of events regarding yams leads to some serious issues. This is a truly surreal piece, complete with a top-and-tale scene of a prosperous couple having dinner and talking about the upsurge in mental illness among the country's poor.
The last story, 'Thou Shalt Suffer a Witch', has a distinct Carmilla vibe. Student Chinwe becomes increasingly disturbed by the antics of Joy, a girl who regards her as her best friend and seems to know a lot about her life. When a handsome guy comes between them, Joy's response is drastic. Again, Hollywood horror convention is eschewed in favour of something rather different, and the ending is surprisingly effective.
Overall, Juju Stories is an absorbing watch. Surreal16 have produced something more interesting than the average horror movie, and managed to create an anthology movie with no weak stories.