Movie Review

DARK OCTOBER; ALUU 4 STORY THAT COULD BE TOLD BETTER (A REVIEW)

This is a Linda Ikeji film that tried to tell the story of Aluu4; the four boys that were mobbed and set ablaze by members of a particular community in Port Harcourt, Rivers state after they were mistaken for thieves when in reality they had gone to retrieve the money being owed one of them by a resident of the community. This was an incident that occurred in 2012 which was one of the first incidents to be captured by a phone and sent across the internet causing ripples of outrage across Nigeria and calls for justice.

The story is a very touching one but the screenplay leaves much to be desired. Produced by Linda Ikeji and released in February 3, 2023, Dark October reeked of amateur screenplay, directing and production.

The conversational lines were pedestrian, though I give it to some of the actors for making a decent attempt at interpreting their roles. I wish they had used more experienced and better trained actors and they had used a better written script or a more seasoned movie director than Toka McBaror. The movie would have made better waves than it did when it was released under these circumstances. To think that such picture quality and mediocre movie can be accepted by Netflix streaming board goes to show that indeed Netflix can sacrifice content quality on the altars of quantity.

The Plot

Camera opened to the sight of a scantily clad young man who looked battered too walking along a pathway and it appears no one notices him. Then he realizes everyone around him is focused on a particular activity and as he focuses on the Centre of the activity, the scene cut to a month earlier and the same young man, who happens to be the lead actor, Tizzy, played by Chuks Joseph, is seen as a student of University of Port Harcourt trying to carve a niche for himself and his bosom friend, Big L, played by Munachi Okpala. As the movie drags on, you watch how the duo makes plans of performing in a forthcoming Students Union programme and then how they are faced with the challenge of recovering a debt owed Tizzy by a certain Wisdom who leaves in Aku Community. After the boys, in company of their other friends checks on the debtor a couple of times without any success, they plan to pay the debtor a visit at the wee hours of the morning and catch him off guard. A certain gang member is also engaged as an enforcer given the said Wisdom was portrayed as a gang member.

Now, the Aku Community is presented as one which had been smarting from chronic attacks from armed robbers with little or no confidence in the police’ ability to curb the menace. The legendary Chika Okpala of the vintage TV comedy, The New Masquerade played the Chief of the community who has little or no hold on the community.

So, when Wisdom (played by Boman Bognet), started screaming thieves, thieves as he ran away from the boys and the enforcer shot at him, that sealed the fate of the boys as the community vigilante caught them, save for the enforcer who escaped. Everything works again the boys as attempts by a certain ‘good Samaritan’ to get them a fair hearing falls on deaf ears and the community succeeds in mobbing the boys and finally setting them ablaze. The students of Uniport stage a protest in the said community destroying properties and one of the students who played Tizzy’s cousin makes a speech about the dangers of jungle justice.

Reservations

Chika Okpala, who seemed like the only significant screen face in the movie showed how rusty he has gotten at acting. The prevalence of rough edges in the movie gave hint to the possibility of the producer being in a hurry to get the movie out and working with a lean budget. Given how big Linda Ikeji is in the communications industry and how big the story of Aluu 4 is, I am so disappointed with the movie and expect someone else to take it upon him or herself to make another movie that would do justice to the story of the Aluu 4. There are angles to the story that could make for a more interesting screenplay when better research is done on the events surrounding the Aluu 4 incident. I also gather that the consent of the parents of the deceased was not sought before the movie was produced. Now, that is the height of irresponsibility on the part of Ikeji and needs to be addressed in a subsequent production of the same story. In as much as the parents of the four boys must be traumatized, there is no doubt that carrying them along in an attempt to immortalize the boys would serve as an essential healing balm on their mortal wound. Also, I think that Netflix aided and abetted giving the viewing public mediocre content in Dark October. This is a major dent on the image of Netflix and I look forward to the time Nigerian movie stakeholders would come up with better streaming sites that would maintain a reputation of quality content only; one reputation Netflix used to enjoy…but not anymore.

Conclusion

I would give Dark October 1/5 and just like a teacher would do with a student that brought in a haphazardly done homework, I would ask Linda Ikeji to go back and make another production of Dark October that would do justice to the big story of Aluu 4. While I congratulate their noble initiative to immortalize the four victims of jungle justice in Rivers State, Nigeria, whatever is worth doing is worth doing well.

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Author

  • Ostar Eze

    O’star Eze is the Senior Writer for TV and Film Reviews at InsideNollywood.ng. He is a published poet, author, and screen writer who has been actively involved in the movie industry in various capacities for over a decade. He has also been a tutor of peace, synergic studies and pro green energy economy.

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