Movie Review: This grudge falls flat | The Grudge

by Okon Ekpo

Call it a mini Tinsel reunion.

For her debut effort as producer, actress Funmi Holder – best known for her work as Amaka Ade-Williams on the television series, Tinsel – marshals some of her colleagues who have at some point, passed through the MNet soap’s revolving doors.

While Richard Mofe-Damijo once had a guest starring arc on the perennially running show, Ireti Doyle and Holder herself remain regulars. Completing the quintet are crossover leading man Odunlade Adekola and not so newbie, Ifeoma Aniebo.

Directed by  Yemi Morafa, The Grudge is a domestic horror story; a bruising cautionary tale on the perils of covetousness and the limits of a person’s tolerance.

Iretiola Doyle and Richard Mofe-Damijo are a well to do Lagos couple on the verge of celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary but it is clear all is not well with their union. She is cold, distant, mean spirited, and obsessed with work. He is a bit more sympathetic, but only just so. Also obsessed with work, he finds solace in the soothing presence of his colleague (Holder) who happens to be a friend of the family.

Holder’s character provides listening ears to both sides whenever they have an argument (and they always do) but her job description entails more than that. She dishes out advice wherever she can, helps the somewhat neglected kids with their homework, and prays with the family whenever they allow her to.

It doesn’t take long to see the unrequited love oozing out her every pore. Everyone can see it of course, except the couple at the centre of the drama, who let her into their lives without any clue. Or so it seems at first.

On the other side of town, is the much put upon Chikaodi (Ifeoma Aniebo), trapped in a loveless marriage with a down-on-his-luck-nobody, Taju (Odunlade Adekola). She scores a breakthrough when she takes up an offer to work as a hired help to Tunde’s family, only to become an unwitting pawn in a ruthless game of wits where all isn’t exactly fair and nothing is quite what it seems.

Tonally, thematically and structurally, The Grudge is made up of two different films whose characters intersect and interact intermittently. The first is the dramatic plot involving the characters played by Ireti Doyle, RMD and Funmi Holder.

The other is a more comic adventure involving Chikaodi and Taju. Odunlade Adekola in particular is the film’s supposed secret weapon and the director allows him to run amok and ride roughshod over his co-stars. As with most undirected Nollywood comic performances, his in turns hits and misses.

The Grudge was written by Taiwo Egunjobi, from a story by Funmi Holder is dialogue heavy and plays like an early version of a stage play. The characters talk and talk and the director seems obsessed with wanting to tell his audience everything instead of just showing. The tone is shrill, judgemental and indecisive.

There is nothing special technically that the film has to offer, matter of fact the picture could be improved upon. The script is dull and ends badly as it tries to coalesce two separate stories into a whole that is less than satisfying. The acting, especially from the leads is basic Nollywood stock fare. RMD and Doyle phone it in, Adekola is overcompensating and Holder remains a presence for the small screen. Ifeoma Aniebo seems to be the only one who genuinely showed up for work and her character is the only one worth caring about in the entire affair.

Funmi Holder seems like a genuinely sweet person and it seems unfair to knock her hustle but the truth is, no one is likely going to remember The Grudge even three months down the line.

Tinsel reunion or not, this one is instantly forgettable.

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