Film Review: ShowMax’s Diiche is a thrilling foray into motives for murder, ogbanje tradition and modern psychology

The unnerving storyline of Diiche sets it apart as a Nigerian drama and psychological thriller series guaranteed to get and stay in your head.

The toe-curling and popcorn-spilling jumps that horror movies elicit are one thing, but psychological thrillers get inside your head and stay there, for totally different reasons. They feature stories of paranoia, abuse, delusion and phobia, showcasing heroes and villains whose grasp on reality is dangerously close to failing. Showmax’s debut Nigerian original limited series, Diiche, ticks all these boxes and then some.

Directed by James Omokwe with Tolu Ajayi, Fiyin Gambo, and Ifeoma Chukwuogo as Co-Directors, the limited series stars Daniel K Daniel, Efa Iwara, Uzoamaka Onuoha, Frank Konwea, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, Kalu Ikeagwu, Chinyere Wilfred, and Gloria Anozie-Young.

Diiche is a movie of curiosity, suspense and character. It shines as a murder thriller anchored in the peculiarities of a Nigerian drama’s peculiarities and the psychological and spiritual intrigues of multiple personalities, offering a welcome departure from the common mundane themes prevalent in Nigeria’s movie space.

The Nigerian entertainment industry is the backdrop of Diiche‘s plot. Odiiche Anyanwu (played by Uzoamaka Onuoha), a star actress and Nollywood darling, finds herself at the centre of a tragic and distasteful situation. Her fiancé, Nnamdi Nwokeji (played by Daniel K Daniel), a popular movie producer was found murdered on the private beach that was the venue of their engagement party. Much of the storyline hangs on the investigation of who killed Nnamdi, with Diiche herself being one of the prime suspects. Uzoamaka Onuoha is stunning as the main character. Her vulnerability and seeming helplessness at the start of the series makes you want to gather her up in your arms to comfort her, while still wondering if there’s something sinister about the innocence she’s portraying.

The search for Nnamdi’s killer starts in earnest with the investigation led by two detectives. The plot begins to unfold in twists and turns that expose how many of the main characters have a few nasty skeletons they’re desperately trying to keep under wraps. Nnamdi didn’t live a saintly life, he had plenty of enemies of his own and many of the characters have an angst or two against him.

As the series progresses, however, we soon realise that the full story is much bigger than a high-profile murder investigation. Diiche’s mother, Kesaandu Anyanwu (played by veteran actress, Chinyere Winifred) is hiding a terrible secret – a secret which might be the key to unlocking the murder’s puzzle. For most of the series, Kesaandu plays the role of a mother hen-like figure who shelters her daughter from the prying eyes of the Police and ‘too much questioning’. As the story builds into a thrilling climax, it becomes apparent that her overprotectiveness might have been for other reasons as a blast from the past launches us into the roller coaster of uncovering who Diiche really is.

Asides from the top-notch plot and acting, Diiche also has all the makings of a top-tier modern sleuth movie. The detectives in charge of investigating Nnamdi’s murder, Inspector Kazeem and Inspector Ijeoma (played by Frank Konwea and Uzoamaka Aniunoh respectively), are on top of their games in uncovering clues and getting under the skin of characters who seem suspicious, even if both inspectors have no love lost for each other. Their banter keeps much of the dialogue and suspenseful tension of the movie-going. Interestingly, Inspector Ijeoma’s relentlessness at sniffing out clues and her brilliance at piecing them together is a win for feminism and a strong argument for a shift from patriarchy in the Nigerian Police Force as we know it.

Diiche explores a variety of themes providing viewers with the option to cherry-pick. The unassuming takes the bait of the apparent murder investigation drama but beneath the surface lies a thematic blend that is as unlikely as it is seamless. Perhaps what the movie does most inventively is how it coherently places traditional ‘ogbanje’ or ‘abiku’ realities with the modern-day psychological phenomenon of multiple personalities. Traditional beliefs can be termed superstitious. But what happens when they’re manifest in modern psychology?

Whether you’re an avid psychological thriller fan looking for your next excitement or trying to decide on a mind-bending flick to binge-watch on a Friday night, Diiche has the right blend of Nigerian drama and slow-burn fright for you. Chances are, you’ll feel inclined to double-check your door locks after watching. And even if you’re not easily scared, you might want to give a second, more assessing glance at someone you catch incessantly talking to themselves.

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