Abro ne Bayie (C’Emeka Uba, 2007)
I will say that I am working on a very small sample size given the prolific output of the Nollywood film industry—I have seen half a dozen films made in Nigeria and two in Ghana—but my initial impression of the two sides of Nollywood is that those crazy kids from Nigeria are making better movies than their Ghanian counterparts. Understand that the term “better” is relative here. Also take note of the fact that as of this writing, the most hilariously awful Nollywood movie I have ever seen came from Nigeria, not Ghana (Occultic War). But…man. Abro ne Bayie. I tracked this one down after seeing the trailer on Youtube. It’s the only Nollywood trailer I’ve ever seen that outdoes the trailer for The Adulteress. Guys turning into painted prepubescents? Shimmering women flinging miniature balls of fire at sleeping people? It’s like Liquid Sky if Slava Tsukerman had no talent, no taste in casting actors, and was attempting to direct in a language he didn’t understand. Of course I had to see it. And, well, the WTF factor keeps it from being as awful as Occultic War, but… well, let’s just say this is not Nollywood for beginners.
Plot: Dufie (Mercy Asiedu) is a member of a witch cult. (As a side note, if the movies are to be believed, Ghana has more witch cults per capita than any country in the world except Nigeria.) She is supposed to recruit her son Vincent (Bernard Aduse-Poku) into the cult, but she reports in the opening scene that he has become a prayer warrior. The cult starts cooking up ideas to bring him over to the dark side. (Spoiler alert: no one ever thinks to offer him cookies.) Being an evangelical seems to be doing Vincent no end of good; he’s got himself a gorgeous fiancee, Rosemary (Sasha Opoku), he’s an influential guy at the church, he’s friends with the neighbors. A badly-superimposed angel intervenes whenever Dufie attempts to fling supernatural fireballs at anyone (the special effects in those scenes are enough reason for you to go looking for this movie right now if you’re a fan of cheeseball celluloid), but evil eventually starts having its way; Rosemary and another church brother, Gabriel (Isaac Amaming Kwarteng), start having rumors flying about them, while the cult’s expert in cultural terrorism comes up with a plan to drive the two apart and steer Vincent into the arms of a member of the cult.
About most of the aspects of this movie, it’s simple enough to say that if you’ve seen one Ghanian film, you’ve seen them all, at least in my three-movie experience of Ghanaian film; Christians vs. pagans, beautiful scenery, ridiculous overacting, a special effects budget of maybe ten bucks. But man, when this thing goes over the top, it goes way over the top. The crazy little painted kid in the trailer with the horn? WHAT. No, I mean, just WHAT. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is an absolutely terrible movie unless you have a cast-iron stomach and brain bleach sitting right next to your chair within easy reach, but I’ll tell you what: I am really, really glad the VCD had both parts 1 and 2 on it, because once you have seen the first movie, you will not be able to rest until you have seen the second. * ½