Tokoloshe - The Calling
Tokoloshe: Am American Curse
South Africa 2020
Richard Green, Arish Sirkissoon (executive) for LX Seth
directed by Richard Green
starring Shezi Sibongiseni, Lwandile Xaba, Lloyd Grant O'Connor, Arish Sirkissoon, Angela Balkovic, Rubendra Govender, Roelof Twijnstra, Sanjay Laljith, Neerusha Oogograh, Maureen Bishop, Christopher Tobo, Rio Notra Segal
written by Arish Sirkissoon, Richard Green, music by David Fesliyan, Arish Sirkissoon
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Writer Arish Verma (Arish Sirkissoon) moves his family - wife Angelina
(Angela Balkovic) and adopted daughter Ntombi (Lwandile Xaba) - to an
abandoned hotel for inspiration for his latest novel. Things get strange
at the hotel, as people show up that might just be figments of Arish's
imagination, or much worse, ghosts of those who have died in the hotel's
dark past. But at first, Arish seems to be too caught up in his own
writing to even notice, and when he does, he seems all too eager to make a
deal with the evil forces at hand ...
Years ago, Thembi (Shezi Sibongiseni) has escaped above hotel if only
just, and while she has since embarked on a career as high school teacher,
she still needs psychotherapy to cope. And frankly, she wasn't the first
(almost-)victim of the evil spirit inhabiting the hotel that has been
built on stolen land back when and since many victims have fallen to its
course. Yet Thembi's new therapist Dr. Richards (Lloyd Grant O'Connor)
tells her the best thing to master her fears is to confront them. Which is
of course very reasonable advice - except for the fact that there might be
something evil roaming the hotel for real ...
Now a writer spending time in an abandones haunted hotel of
course sounds a lot like The Shining,
and Tokoloshe - The Calling makes no attempts to gloss over that
parallel, rather embraces it with scenes like a kid riding through
corridors on her tricycle or a hotel bar peopled by ghosts of days past.
But while the film is full of Easter Eggs for fans of the earlier movie
(and indeed, who isn't?), it differs greatly in story, which is rooted in
South African mythology, and approach, inasmuch as it abandons simple
linear storytelling and often hints at plot elements rather than making
them obvious, which leads to a slowburn build-up on one hand, but also a
very fascinating (and very creepy) cinematic puzzle that will make sense
only in the finale. So in all, a (despite all the Shining-references)
pretty unusual movie, and a worthwhile one for that.