THE GHOST AND THE HOUSE OF TRUTH MOVIE REVIEW
By Morris Abdul Newton
Dir: Akin Omotosho
Starring: Susan Wokoma, Kate Henshaw, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Toyin Oshinaike, Keira Hewatch, Seun Ajayi.
Is ‘The Ghost and the House of Truth’ a good movie? This is the reason we are here, right? Interesting though, it only lasts for just over an hour. Yet another question is if it managed to capture our hearts within that short time.
This film is about a young single mother, Bola Ogun (Susan Wokoma), who works as a reconciliation officer/counselor that facilitates reconciliation sessions between convicts and the victims or family members of the victims of their crimes. Then her only daughter goes missing and it’s her turn to deal with and overcome the trauma that saturates this sort of occasion as her belief in forgiveness is tested.
The cinematography is mostly clean. Apart from some blurry patches and some overtly dark pictures, it was mostly okay. Sound was good, but the language got me asking questions. I already had that feeling of watching the very arty, slow-paced European type movies only for the feeling to be compounded by that very alien simulation of Nigerian languages. The pidgin sounded different and then Yoruba. I don’t know but it seemed there was some sort of disconnect somewhere and it all just felt more than awkward.
Furthermore, I had an issue with the way the scenes at the beginning panned out as there was no occasioning of the passage of time. From the afternoon scene where the little girl arrives from school and her mother (Bola) is sleeping, to whatever time they were both cooking, to the morning when they both left the house again. There was no proper establishment. Just keeping it moving weirdly.
Also, there was way too much silence and really slow build-up without still achieving much exposition on the little girl in question. In this market, that can be a problem, but I guess Akin Omotoso was thinking of Europe or something. Not that ‘Europe or something’ won’t have issues with the same thing.
The film had nice overhead shots of landscapes, including Makoko, but this is also a fault in this film as it seemed like an overhead or drone shots festival. A lot of the time we stayed overhead, staring at shots of landscape like the runtime of the movie wasn’t short enough for us. It’s a possibility that if we put together the time those shots took from the film, we could amass at least a quarter of the movie. So was this not really a short film?
Inspector Adetola aka Stainless (Kate Henshaw) is pregnant in the film and that particular detail turned out a bit too much. Only because the filmmakers didn’t ensure we noticed the relevance of her pregnancy from the very beginning and even in the long run. It would have been nice if the fact that she was pregnant and overtly determined to solve the case of the missing girl really meant something. It just didn’t shine through. I couldn’t figure out her attachment to solving the crime or what her own personal issues were. Forget that part where she set up the baby crib. It meant nothing. Stainless is stainless but who tried staining her in this film? You guessed right. No one!
A further worry for me, in the film, was her charges. The Police officers working under her were pretty useless. How on earth is the pregnant officer the one doing the chasing and apprehending while they are after the suspect in a swampy/riverine area? How? How come the other able-bodied officers suddenly were missing in action? Quite unrealistic.
For large portions, I wondered why Bola’s partner at the counseling outfit, played by Keira Hewatch, went missing for many scenes when she could have been some sort of trauma support for Bola during the search for her daughter.
The interesting thing is that the movie is not bad but it did dwell a lot on the wrong things. For instance, the suspect having a concubine wasn’t a big deal. Even his wife knew he was shady like that, so why was that so serious in the movie. If his wife didn’t know and it was a big deal if she finds out, then it makes more sense.
I suspect that the performances would have been better had the actors and the filmmakers given more time to the character developments. At least, that’s what I could decipher from the actors’ delivery in this movie. They weren’t top-notch coming into this. Especially the lead actor, Susan. And it’s not because she is a bad actress.
Lastly; a flawed resolution. There was really no solving of the case… the solution just sort of happened and that’s bad for the business of the genre. What was all that fuss about if some genius move is not going to solve this case? Did the writers get lazy here?
In the long run, this film didn’t fulfill its potential, right from its writing to its post-production. A number of things were missing and there weren’t even enough scenarios to completely immerse us in the story. This one was short but still pretty much empty and unconvincing.