If low budget minimalism was a movie, it would be ‘The Hidden’, a Ken Erics 2022 movie that outdid my expectations. The movie reeked of low budget and lack of serious acting. From the soundtrack of the movie that gave Nollywood that pedestrian reputation to the sickening stage management of some of the actors especially the new faces, I hid my face in shame watching that movie at first. But as the movie continued, I got ashamed of myself for not seeing what a professional movie maker Ken Erics is, despite the low budget.
It is the story of Ezenna (played by Ken Erics) a poor keke Napep commuter driver who was struggling with life. He got beaten to pulp by revenue agents. He was taken to the hospital and there got the intervention of his wife’s schoolmate in settling the hospital bills.
The theme of poverty and its restricting nature on a man is elaborately explored in this movie. The theme of insensitivity of men toward the vicissitudes of others too. There is also the theme of ‘problems coming in chains’. And then there is the theme the average Nigerian man can relate to as they watch Ezenna bewails his fate after his keke is taken away from him. He gets depressed but had his confidence bolstered by his wife, Amaka.
Then he goes job hunting and he stumbles upon his school mate who introduces him to a business that gives off warning signs to his wife. She does not understand how a legitimate business would pay 2.5 million naira; just for conveying ‘chemicals’ to another city. He is given money to settle the police at checkpoints along the road but he chooses to speak English to the police. They search his car and find samples of cocaine. He is arrested and is charged to court. The wife is faced with a dilemma; to have sex with another man in order to secure the husband’s freedom. First, it was the man who set her husband up, then it is a lawyer who promised to bring him out. She succumbs to the lawyer’s advances and engages in unprotected sex with the Justice handling the case.
Amaka’s rich friend is interested in Ezenna and had encouraged Amaka to sleep with any man to get what she wants. She capitalises on Amaka’s slip to make moves of taking over Ezenna. She encourages Ezenna to send Amaka away and move in with her.
Amaka is thrown out of the house and as she wanders the streets, she is knocked down by a cab. The cab man takes her to his home and starts treating her with love. They marry officially. She becomes pregnant. While Ezenna faces tough time getting his mother to accept Amaka’s friend, Lucy, as daughter in law.
The cast of The Hidden is as minimalist as can be. What with Ken Erics and about 5 others making up the cast, how they were able to hold my attention for the excruciating 2 hours and 19 minutes the movie ran is a miracle of sorts. I cannot imagine repeating the ordeal.
Yet, the creativity that propelled the production screams out. If you numb your senses to the blunt edges, it makes for a good story. The movie was able to do justice to the story of the average Nigerian youth; university graduate yet struggling to survive, beautiful girl yet faced with the need to compromise values before she can be helped from her sorry state.
Amaka gives birth on the same day her new husband gets a call that he has gained employment in an oil company. Their fate changes with the birth of the boy and they own their own house complete with a brand new car.
On the other hand, Lucy is stripped of all her benefits from her company including her car and she loses her job. She loses her womb in a medical complication and her man warns her to keep off.
He goes to claim Amaka’s baby and serves her and her husband to court. Amaka’s husband sues to settle out of court and sponsors a paternity test. It reveals neither men is the father. AMAKA later discloses that indeed it is that Justice that fucked her to set her first man free.
Her new husband decides they keep it secret and raise the baby as theirs. The movie ends with a hug. Beautiful. Bravo.
While I wanted to give The Hidden the cold shoulders at first, as the movie gained a crescendo and I looked beyond the low budget and some human errors, I see the creativity and beautiful life lessons the movie brings to the table. Nice one, Ken Erics.
If you want to see the full movie, go to Excel Nolly TV on YouTube.