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Review: BLOOD TOKOLOSHE (2013)

The Tokoloshe is a Zulu entity that can grant wishes but at a price. A price paid in the blood of others. Writer/director Jordan Harland’s film Blood Tokoloshe, (horribly re-titled Ghetto Goblin in the US), weaves one into a Faustian tale with some commentary on the clash of cultures in South Africa’s townships.

Mthunzi (Msimbithi Mahamba) wants money and women. So he has the local shaman Bheka (Siphiwe Masinga) conjure a Tokoloshe and bind it to him. Bheka warns him if he fails to follow the instructions, there will be horrible consequences.

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At first, all goes well, Mthunzi gets what he wants, and the Tokoloshe is satisfied with a small amount of blood from its victims, leaving what looks like a vampire bite on them. But as his greed grows, so does the amount of blood taken and the brutality of the attacks.

And then, inevitably, Mthunzi breaks his end of the deal and the creature is set loose. It takes its revenge by killing the women its former master had it deliver to him. Can it be stopped before it gets to Boithumelo (Petunia Gabrielle Modisapodi) who Mthunzi has actually fallen for?

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I’ve had good things to say about several South African films such as 8: A South African Horror, Hunting Emma and The Lullaby. But apart from 5 Fingers For Marseilles, most of these have concentrated on white South Africans. Blood Tokoloshe, however, gives a different perspective. This is entirely by and about the people of the townships.

As a horror film, Blood Tokoloshe is a fun if somewhat familiar tale of dealing with the devil. The fact it’s based on Zulu mythology rather than Christian doctrine gives it a nice twist for somebody like me who’s unfamiliar with that culture.

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Along with this comes the clash between Bheka and Reverend Simon (Simon Msizi Nwamba) and the cultures they represent. Being a Christian clergyman, Simon can’t accept the reality of the tokoloshe. Until it takes a victim in his sanctuary. A bit more could have been done with this, but it gives the first half of Blood Tokoloshe an interesting subplot.

Blood Tokoloshe is available on various streaming platforms under the Ghetto Goblin title. It’s an interesting piece of world cinema, and I’m curious to see how it compares to Jerome Pikwane’s The Tokoloshe which comes out next month. You can check Blood Tokoloshe’s Facebook page for updates.

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