There is just some films that you feel that you have to watch. You have to have huge respect for any filmmaker making a genre movie that has never been attempted before in their country. This is exactly what we have with Ojuju – Nigeria’s first ever zombie production
At the start of the film we get informed on-screen that ” 70 million Nigerians exist without safe drinking water’ so that gives us a pretty strong, not to mention, believable premise for a solid zombie infection.
The first time we see a zombie, it is staggering down a dark alleyway. Two guys are sitting smoking a joint and they mistake the zombie for a drunk person (like Shaun Of The Dead). They laugh and make jokes until their smiles get wiped off their faces when one of them gets a chunk ripped out of their arm.
The infection takes place in a small slum-like village called Lagos. There is only one way in, and one way out, which is never a good thing if you’re in the middle of a zombie epidemic. Even though it follows the same rules as most zombies movies and doesn’t really offer us anything new, the slums of a Nigerian village is an awesome place to have a zombie infection.
Our unlikely hero is a young stoner called Romero (I know that name from somewhere). He is just about a to have a child and settle down but is still trying to hide the fact that he smokes a ton of weed from his soon-to-be wife. When everyone around him starts to become infected, Romero must find a way out of the slum before he becomes one of the waking dead.
Director, C.J “Fiery” Obasi managed to push all the right buttons and gives us a zombie film for the zombie fan. The film does tread on familiar ground but it is the new environment, the slum-like village filled with drugs, desperation and prostitution that sets it apart from the rest.
The zombie FX are pretty much non-existent. We are aware from the get-go that this film was made with very little, or even no cash. The zombies are slow, just like the fans prefer. Some of them just look normal, with little or no make-up on. The other infected would remind us of the zombies from George A. Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead or Wes Craven’s, voodoo zombie classic The Serpent And The Rainbow.
The infection takes a while to get started and for the first part of the movie it is more of a Nigerian buddy-stoner movie, with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments, and great performances. Then when the infection finally spreads there is enough carnage to impress the hardest of zombie fans, and the gore looks pretty damn decent for a feature of such a low-budget.
Ojuju is way better than a lot of recent zombie attempts at bringing the undead back to life. An obvious talent behind the camera with both director and actors well-deserving of bigger productions.
It is great that we have festivals like Fantasia Film Festival that gives these guys the chance to get their films out there.