Can horror comedies in Nollywood explode with ‘My Village People’?

My Village People

It has since been established that Nollywood isn’t actively in the business of making horror films. 90’s Nollywood horror nostalgia is all we have, thanks to YouTube. Only just once, or maybe twice, did Nollywood experience two mainstream horror films – the sequel of Living in Bondage (2019) and the reboot of Nneka the Pretty Serpent (2020).

Away from these studio spectacles, the industry has been on regular programming, with no desire to retrieve the consciousness of its horror past. Maybe that could change in a way that explores the genre of horror as we know it. Niyi Akinmolayan’s My Village People appears to be that stuff, an upcoming horror comedy out in cinemas June 11, 2021. Of course, Akinmolayan hasn’t labelled it as such, and this is where a rethinking of horror is most useful, especially in this part of the world.

Horror is a spectrum, and it’s also never static. Horror purists, like myself, have consumed the genre in various forms and renditions. Horror can interplay with comedy just as much as it can with romance. Gore and violence don’t define horror; the genre is much complex and multifaceted. Back to My Village People, the film has popular comedian Bovi in a lead role, a bachelor whose womanizing lands him in a bizarre triangle involving a coven of witches.

Like many other Nigerian comedians trafficking their comic sensibilities into Nollywood, and turning into crossover movie stars, Bovi’s role doesn’t come with a spectacular shift. He’s still funny and whimsical, albeit according to what the story demands. But his involvement in such a project shows how permeable the barriers between horror and comedy is. Elsewhere, in Hollywood, comedians are pivoting towards horror as filmmakers. Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Chris Rock‘s new Saw installment comes to mind. In Nollywood, Basketmouth announced in late 2018 that his first feature film was going to a horror film – The Exorcism of Alu. But since then, the film has been suspended in limbo, yet to be released.

Point is, comedians seem to be aware of the blurred lines between horror and comedy, and My Village People is operating in that cinematic space. The witch coven trope invokes old Nollywood horror and from what the trailer shows, it switches between funny and dark. This shouldn’t be conflated with dark comedy on a core level, but lines can be crossed surely.

With My Village People out in cinemas next week, and drawing the Nollywood and comedy crowds, perhaps it can

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