Produced and written by Helen Ukpabio, a Nigerian evangelist who also takes the Van Helsing-like role of ‘Pastor Priscilla’, and directed by the apparently prolific Teco Benson, this looks like an amateur film to Western eyes. It has a meandering yet incident-packed plot, ranting performances from people who have been given too few lines to say but string out scenes by repeating them over and over, broader-than-pantomime characterisations, minimal production values and is shot (poorly) on video with a few home computer-level CGI morphs thrown in. It is also more directly, indeed unreasonably Christian in its ‘thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’ morality than even the likes of the evangelically-funded Left Behind films, professing to be an expose of the witch problem in Nigeria.
A caption announces that this film has triumphed over evil forces to get shown: ‘This film is coming to you by the special grace of God. There have been several near successful attempts by the powers of darkness to stop it, because of its great expositions.’ It’s more propagandist than evangelical and anyone who’s followed news items about appalling injustices perpetrated in Africa (or among African émigré communities) in the name of rooting out ‘witchcraft’ will be duly shocked by the blunt message. However, it’s watchably peculiar – even if there are reputedly a thousand Nigerian videos like this a month which few European or American audiences can get (or would want) to see. The demon Beelzebub, with white pancake face and bloody chin, holds court in open country, cackling over evil deeds and presiding as his followers shapeshift into animal form or do ‘the most sexy dance in the world’ (very mild). The elderly, hefty Lady Destroyer, Beelzebub’s most devoted witch, charges her son Chris Amadi with the ‘crimes’ of looking after her, loving his family and being a good provider — and determines to wreck his life in various ways which seem to be a loose adaptation of the story of Job, with the crucial change that here God has no responsibility for allowing Lady D and Beelzebub to give Chris such a hard time. A wealthy businessman with a home full of suburban luxuries, Chris goes through a bad patch – a deal falls through and he loses his job, a young son is killed while playing football, a daughter starts lying and stealing, his mother sprouts an enormous rubber male organ (explicitly if absurdly shown) and fucks his long-suffering wife Stella (she thinks it’s a bad dream, but wakes up bleeding between the legs), the maid is electrocuted while dusting and Chris has to pay a bribe to her grasping parents to get out of an unjustified murder charge, his sister (whose womb is hung up on a tree) can’t conceive and her husband’s new car won’t start. Eventually, Stella is born again and calls in Priscilla, but Chris has been pestered to death, and the only thing left to do is persecute the defiant Lady Destroyer by hitting her with sticks as she boasts of all the ills she has wrought through witchcraft.
Obviously, a lot happens, but it’s weirdly-misjudged: there’s a germ of an idea in the evil woman punishing her son for being nice to her, but it sits ill with the fact that Lady D stands to lose her home and comfortable life too, and the bullying, ranting, poorly-dressed Chris (his lime-green Bat-logo sweatshirt is hard to look at) is such an unpleasant creep even before the curse kicks in that it’s impossible to sympathise with his sufferings. The dialogue is in English, and delivered full-throttle (a lot of ‘OH my God!’) if only in approximation of dramatic form. Some scenes are hilariously poorly-staged, especially as folks argue while corpses lie in the background (the maid is frozen in place by shock but twitches a bit), and the mobs of witches or God-fearing souls wave their arms in support of their beliefs.