By Prisca Sam-Duru
Whatever reservation anyone has about most Nollywood movies will surely be dispelled after watching “The Mystic River” series now on Netflix, due to its quality and intriguing nature.
The 26-episode Nigerian horror series, streaming on Netflix from May 14, 2021, is as thrilling, suspense-filled, as it is spellbinding. Being in the category of horror supernatural series, the movie shot in Ijebu Ode, will keep viewers on the edge of their seats till the end of each episode, before leaving them yearning for more.
The dominant theme in “The Mystic River” produced by Rogers Ofime and directed by Uzodinma Okpechi, which comes from the stable of Native Media, is that of good and evil.
It’s a major platform through which the African narrative is shared to the rest of the world, in a most believable and compelling way; unearthing some of the lost cultures and traditions that undermined the people, hence the need to jettison them.
The series parades veterans in the industry including; Jide Kosoko, Lota Chukwu, Jude Chukwuka, Dele Odule, Thelma Nwosu, Joke Muyiwa, Folaremi Agunbiade and others.
The high quality of the film says a lot about the Executive Producer’s eye for details, value for professionalism and penchant for narratives with cultural depth. The suspense is killing, and each scene, engaging and captivating such that at some point during the sneak preview, the audience screamed instructions to their favourite actor who is walking into danger.
“The Mystic River” is new horror series made in naija as the first episode is completely laced with horror scenes. It tells the story of a young couple who relocate to a remote Nigerian Village following the woman’s deployment as a doctor in the village health centre. They are oblivious of the deadly practice of sacrificing pregnant women to their gods to avert suffering and death. The mystery surrounding the disappearing pregnant women is about to be unravelled by the young doctor who herself is pregnant, as she encounters the brutal suicide of Bisi who is marked for sacrifice, right before her.
‘‘I want to be able to tell Africa stories, I want to be able to tell stories that have some impact, I want to be able to tell stories that will provoke people to think, to do something, to change something, that’s the niche I’m trying to carve for myself”, Ofime said on why he shot a horror series.
In as much as the setting of the series is archaic, it speaks to present state of the country, where bloodshed has become the order of the day amid decay in every sector including health. “I am not going against tradition, I’m not going against culture. It’s a metaphor, there are some things we don’t like in our country today and we can stand up and do something about it. Like the doctor stood up to fight tradition, we can stand up and do something, we don’t have to leave everything to the government. I believe that standing up, saying something, or making a change will go a long way,” he added.
Jude Chukwuka, veteran Igbo actor who describes himself as Yoruba-centric, especially for his impeccable mastery of the Yoruba language, said shortly after the screening, that the movie simply celebrates our Africanness.
While commending the screenwriter and filmmaker for promoting the Nigerian and African narrative in the project, he urged more Nigerian filmmakers to join the trend.
“What is wrong with us just showcasing our Africanness? If you are looking for an American message, you will not find it in an African story. It’s not every time that we must emphasise on message, is our culture, our beliefs not enough lessons? Except you are looking at it from the point of James Bond, for me our culture, telling our story the way we are, is enough message.
“Create an African environment, let us tell your story, and let Africanness fly everywhere, that’s my point. So, looking for a core message like you would find in Shakespeare, I don’t care, let’s just bring our Africanness and let people see it”, Chukwuka stated.