Photo by Asier Peña /Afrikaldia

C.J. Obasi Is Keeping Nollywood Horror Alive

We speak to Nigerian director C.J. Obasi about the current state of Nollywood horror.

Horror filmmaking is still a fringe project in Nollywood. From its peak in the '90s exploring themes on blood sacrifices (Living In Bondage, Blood Money), witchy femme fatale blockbusters (Karishika, Nneka the Pretty Serpent), and christianity (The Ultimate Power, End of the Wicked) to the genre dwindling out from mainstream consumption around the 2000s, horror itself has reckoned with its own demise. It's hushed away from the circles of elite filmmakers and tastemakers, with nothing but the infantilizing tone that dictates what local viewers should want.

Despite the great churn of comedies and romantic dramas since the cinema revolution, horror and the speculative have been burning as a small, inextinguishable flame throughout C.J. Obasi's work. The Nigerian director has been keenly consistent with the genre, from his 2014 feature debut, Ojuju, a zombie thriller set in Nigeria, to the Africanfuturistic appeal of Hello, Rain, released in 2018. Obasi always tries to use horror to exam social plights or conditions. (For Ojuju and Hello Rain, those conditions are safe drinking water for public use and demystifying juju, respectively.)

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