‘What Lies Within’: A thriller well made or just another wannabe Nollywood mystery film?

Posted on September 04 2017 , at 01:36 pm
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  • The film is set in Lagos, Nigeria.

A Cool Story Picture, Cornucopia Productions, VeeBlu Productions and Kukuruku premiered their work, What Lies Within on the last day of last month.

Directed by Vanessa NzediegwuWhat Lies Within features Tope TedelaPaul UtomiMichelle Dede, Kunle Remi, Kiki Omeili, Ken Erics Ugo, Okey Uzoeshi, Odenike, Ebele Okaro, Yaw and Nzediegwu.

The film which is set in Lagos, Nigeria, chronicles 24 hours in the life of two women, Fiona and Ireti, as they are thrown in the middle of a situation that adversely affects their loved ones, friends, and family members.

A murder has occurred, those who carried it out do their best to ensure their crime is not found out. But this film isn’t quite about the murder. It runs deeper in trying to raise the dust of some family/relationship issues. Domestic violence is one. The cliché mother-in-law menace and some of societal stereotypes including a ‘fake’ pastor are others.

Paul Utomi puts in a quite commendable shift in the attempt to smith a thriller which keeps you guessing until the very end whether the crime will be discovered.

Nzediegwu’s directing job deserves a pat on the back too, but not as much as the applause she should get for her role as Ireti. The Director of Photography should get a stern warning – one that those responsible for capturing the action on camera have been given on numerous occasions: Close-up shots are only necessary if other shots fall short in sending the message in the scene to the viewer. The way Tunji Akinshehinwa set about using close up shots, you would think they were receding into extinction the next day.

Just as it takes time before the story gets going, most of the actors needed time to grow into their roles in this film. For some, like Tope Tedela, it came much later. By the time the comfort arrived for Tedela’s portrayal of the pastor, we were only interested in finding out how the film ends.

What Lies Within

When What Lies Within ends, it sparks a conversation in the mind of the watcher. Conversations around the line of: Did this film just ‘glorify’ murder? Could and should it have ended differently?

But it’s fine, almost every event, even in Nigeria leaves you with more question than it does answers. And personally, I am fine with how it ends.

Some of the comedy in the film waters down the thrilling attempt. But that is also OK if you are in the mood to sympathize with what the filmmakers’ thought-process was. If you want some commercial success in your film in Nigeria, you cannot leave out comedy. A quick look through the highest grossing Nollywood list confirms this.

How ever, I do not expect anyone to be a fan of Ebele Okaro retaining her scowl when she learns of the news of an approaching grandchild. At least, from the setup, we are meant to believe that this is what she craves from her son’s marriage.

A critical eye will see a story hole that could be plugged by having one of Ireti and Fiona lose their baby during the violence – an additional and even bigger motive for the murder that shows up. Now, length of the time it took for the dinner attendees to notice and remark about the black eye Ireti has is unforgivable.

Actually, because this film is supposed to dip the viewer into its mystery, it takes so long for many things to happen: an attempt to reach Ireti’s husband, a curious cat to check what is behind the door and of course the decision for dinner to commence.

This Nollywood is in search of its major thriller, and by this showing, I’m convinced that we are a step closer.

Good work, guys!

This post first appeared on TNS.

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