For the annual review, only feature length films that received a wide distribution either on big screens or streaming platforms were considered. Because of the limited options for distribution, documentaries that debuted in the festival circuit or screened privately within the year have also been considered.
The ten films on this list at least made an effort. They all fell flat.
The Herbert Macaulay Affair
Exploring three decades in the life of the famed nationalist and founding father, The Herbert Macaulay Affair focuses on the subject’s anti-colonial resistance as well as his romantic involvement with Caroline Pratt, the woman who would eventually become his wife. Imoh Umoren probably had noble intentions but tepid technical details matched with a half-baked screenplay and wooden actors makes this biopic one of the year’s most memorable flops.
Love is War
If you missed Love is War during its cinema run, you didn’t miss much. But think of it as a version of the battle of the sexes but transported to the political circuit in Ondo state by someone who has spent too much time watching television shows from Shondaland. Directed by and starring Omoni Oboli, Love is War, a drama about a couple whose union is tested when they both decide to contest for the same political position is shrill, erratic and completely tone deaf.
After years of languishing in post-production limbo, Heaven’s Hell, the debut film by Katung Aduwak arrives showing its age. Production design that must have looked splendid in 2014 merely seem dated in 2019. The final cut of Heaven’s Hell is a strange, dubious beast, laughable as a thriller and clumsy as drama. Neither heaven nor hell, but a tormented kind of purgatory.
Zero Hour is simply someone’s attempt to copy Hollywood style action thrillers but without nuance or context or even the tiniest sense of imagination. It is a shame people have to pay to encourage this. The picture looks good enough, so do the costumes and make up. Choice of locations is appropriately lavish but almost nothing can save Zero Hour’s derivative writing littered as it is with stilted dialogue, multiple coincidences and convenient plot turns derived straight from cliché central. There is not one single minute where Zero Hour is even mildly believable.
Being Annabel ultimately depends on the ability of the coincidence heavy plot to hold the attention of its audience. Even that is asking for too much as there are stretches where inclusion of certain redundant take up reel time that could be put to good use elsewhere. However one chooses to dice it, and this is not to knock anyone’s hustle, there is really no reason for putting any paying audience through this type of tedium in 2019.
Night Bus to Lagos
Years removed from the collapse of the VHS distribution system that favored ‘Mr Prolific’ Chico Ejiro in his prime, he returned with the unremarkable drama, Night bus to Lagos which no one asked for. It is hard to see what the time away has done for Ejiro’s craft. If he has learnt anything new- or even unlearned some of his old ways- it doesn’t show in Night bus to Lagos, an overlong unfunny ensemble comedy that has absolutely nothing new to offer.
The Enemy I Know
Another film about a wealthy businessman who dies and leaves his family scrambling for leftovers, how utterly original. You may have seen Rita Daniels first at the Headies where she introduced herself as the mother of infamous actress Regina Daniels but one of her day gigs is working as a film producer. The Enemy I Know is an expectedly messy affair and persons who bought tickets really only have themselves to blame.
The Big Fat Lie
Darasen Richards’ sophomore outing is peppered with fart jokes and burns with zero thrill factor. Running with a setup that must have read like an interesting enough idea on paper, Richards only manages to prove that he has little or no business making films, especially if everyone is going to agree that filmmaking goes beyond lining up a succession of moving images.
Makate Must Sell
Makate Must Sell ignores basic, boring beats in favor of directionless doodling. Perhaps romantic comedies are more difficult to pull off than everyone assumes. Director Don Omope certainly makes this case. This isn’t the kind of film that lends itself to any logic. Absence of logic can be forgivable, it is the movies after all. But how does one account for the flight of skill?
Based loosely on the events that have come to be recorded by history as the Aba women’s rebellion, 1929 helmed by Moses Ekor is an embarrassing outing by everyone involved. The film makes a mockery of an important historical event by failing to process even the most basic of research details. Shoddily plotted, terribly acted and horridly produced, 1929 leaves a black mark on all of cinema.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.