Joburg Film Festival film review: 8 – unconvincing

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This film can be screened at the third Joburg Film Festival, 19–24 November.                                                                            

“An old man, fated to collect souls for eternity, seeks atonement after trading his daughter’s soul.”

In the opening sequence of this “South African horror story”, you see an old man lying in bed. His overdramatic make-up, surely applied in excess to indicate that he is dying, did not bode well for the rest of the film. Styling is key, and we have the talent in South Africa.

The biggest problem with 8 is the script, though – the dialogue and story. Both feel staged and weirdly out of place. You could see the experienced/acclaimed actors struggling to deliver their convoluted lines, lines which are supposed to be profound, but end up just being silly (“We come in peace”, “Life is death and death is life”, etc).

The horror tropes abound. A family arrives at a spooky house in the middle of the night. The electricity is off. There is something in the shadows. A pigeon flying out of a window scares everyone. There is the stranger, the other. The house creaks. Someone has made a deal with the devil; someone else has nightmares.

Where I completely gave up, not that I was very intrigued from the start, was when William visits the local village to introduce himself as the new neighbour, the accountant-turned-farmer. When he does not receive the welcome he expects, he dashes off to the Mercedes and grabs a pistol from the cubby. One, the threat the villagers pose by asking him to leave does not demand a weapon. Two, it does not make sense for this mild-mannered pen-pusher to have a pistol, or for him to cock it and hold it behind his back.

You must commend the South African film industry, where budgets are small, for attempting genres other than slapstick or drama, slightly more commercially viable options. That said, we still need to produce remarkable films. The highly anticipated Poppie Nongena, releasing in January, will be the new standard for South African film.

Watch the trailer here:

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  • I watched the film last night as part of the Joburg Film Festival and I must say this review is probably the worst, biased review I have read in my entire life. The review has got nothing to do with the film and its clearly written to bad mouth this film. Reney, it’s disgusting that you have a platform like this to spew your hatred and then have the audacity to market another film in your review. It’s shocking. It’s as if Reney hasn’t even watched the film and was told what to write by a higher force. The gun, for example, has got absolutely nothing to do with the film. It’s merely a prop in a very quick scene in the film. It really seems that there is another agenda driving Reney to write like this.
    The actors were amazing. Thsanamo Sebe is brilliant and the little girl in her first role exceptional. So Reney, you really hit your name with a plank with this review. Like they say. If you haven’t got anything nice to say. Rather keep your crit to yourself. The crowd at last night's screening loved to film. So go figure ...

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    Michael Smith

    Liewe ou Jan, I doubt if I can take your comment seriously and the only name here thats taken a shot of any sort is yours my friend. Firstly it is really in poor style replying to critique with a rant. Secondly if anybody seems to have a biased or slanted opion it is definitely you and lastly if a critic mentions another film in this context it is not considered marketing but comparative information as in how good is War and Peace compared to any of Shakespears works ect.

    So ag asseblief wees net lekker ou Jan!

  • Haha. Philanie and Michael. You obviously haven't seen the film. Reney doesn't crit the film. She basically lambasts 2min in the movie that is totally out of context what the film is actually about. That is my point. She probably didn't watch further than the pistol scene, which is only a third into the film. This review is not a review. If it's not to your taste, let's just write it off as unconvincing. But hey. Take it from who it comes.

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    Michael Smith

    Jan a film review is a opinion piece, It doesn't matter if the reader has seen the film or not, it is actually aimed at those who have not seen it. If you dont know how it works let me give you a breakdown. The Critic/reviewer watches a film then gives their opinion through a medium wether written or oral ect. The reader in the beginning reads these reviews and soon realises which reviewer shares the same entertainment/cinematic view/taste as they do and then generally follows that reviewers critiques on if something is worth their while or not. Obviously RW's view and style is not compatible with yours, unlike Philanie and me who share similar tastes with RW and thus value her opinion.

    Baie eenvouding, thus my reason for this dialogue.

  • Michael... Haha, I know how a film review works. Hence my disgust with Reney's review. She didn't review the film. She uses random sentences in the beginning and crits a scene, the gun scene, that's got nothing to do with the actual story of this film and then that's it. Nothing further. If you think that is a great review, good for you. Luckily, I won't be so influenced to ever take any of Reney's reviews serious again. Open your eyes... Dis eenvoudiger...

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