We’ve had Blood Tokoloshe aka Ghetto Goblin and The Tokoloshe. Now the South African demon is back again in Tokoloshe: An African Curse (Tokoloshe-The Calling outside of the US). Can director Richard Green and co-writer Arish Sirkissoon push the title creature into the horror mainstream?
Arish Verma (Arish Sirkissoon) is a popular author who’s having trouble finishing his new book. He and his family, wife Angelina (Angela Balkovic) and adopted daughter Ntombi (Lwandile Xaba) go to stay at an abandoned, and reputedly cursed hotel. Odd things begin to happen almost immediately.
In a nearby town, Thembi (Shezi Sibongiseni) is having nightmares and incidents of sleep paralysis. The nightmares seem to be linked to her family’s connection to the hotel. Her grandmother was the one who conjured the Tokoloshe responsible for the hotel’s bloody history.
Tokoloshe: An African Curse leans heavily on The Shining for its cues. A troubled writer, wife and child in a large, cursed hotel. There are ghosts of two young girls walking around hand in hand, Ntombi doesn’t have a tricycle, but she does have a ride-on toy. And did I mention the bartender?
The film is shot in a very confusing style that seems to jump around randomly in time. There are also seemly random shots of people and items. Once it’s explained it makes sense and also reminded me of The Shining.
This is not to say Tokoloshe: An African Curse is entirely a clone of Kubrick’s film. The presence of the demon gives the film a Faustian subplot. In folklore, the Tokoloshe can grant wishes, at a rather steep price. Sadly that’s about as much of actual South African folklore as we get from the film. This is a film made in South Africa by South Africans, I was hoping for a story set in that culture, not a rehash of an American film with a few bits of local colour shoehorned in.
Even at just over an hour, I found Tokoloshe: An African Curse a bit slow. It has a few good moments, and Balkovic is much easier on the eyes than Shelly Duvall. But overall it’s just slow-moving and derivative.
Tokoloshe: An African Curse is available to stream. You can get more info via distributor Reel Nightmare Films’ Facebook page.