Tokoloshe: An African Curse (2020) Is A Sad, Pale Imitation Of ‘The Shining’

Writer/Director Richard Green’s Tokoloshe: An African Curse (2020) opens with an original, very catchy rap song, “Tokoloshe” by Bliss, blaring while the camera pans over a young woman named Thembi (Shezi Sibongiseni) out jogging. I am sad to say, for me, that this scene and song are the highlights of the film. The movie stars Angela Balkovic, Lloyd Grant O’Connor, Shezi Sibongiseni, and Arish Sirkissoon.

Synopsis:

A successful writer goes to an abandoned hotel with his wife and adopted daughter to finish his much anticipated follow-up book when strange things start to occur. At the same time, a high school teacher is forced to deal with her gruesome past which is linked to the same hotel.

Arish (Sirkissoon), his wife, Angelina (Balkovic), and their adopted daughter, Ntombi (Xaba), all settle into a beautiful, abandoned, but reportedly cursed hotel. Of course, weird things start to happen. Meanwhile, Thembi meets with a psychotherapist to talk about nightmares she has been having about the hotel from when she was at as a child. It seems that her grandmother was responsible for the Tokoloshe (a vengeful African spirit) haunting the hotel. It was conjured because the man who built the hotel stole the land from Thembi’s grandmother’s people.

Now, there is a major problem that I have with Tokoloshe: An African Curse (AKA Tokoloshe – The Calling). They have borrowed heavily, and I mean heavily, from The Shining. Let’s list the ways:

  1. Creepy hotel in the middle of nowhere – Check
  2. Family with unstable father moves in – Check
  3. Little girl sees two ghost children holding hands – Check
  4. Father gets served whiskey at the bar by ghost bartender – Check
  5. Father types repetitive phrase on his typewriter – Check
  6. Mom grabs blunt object to whack Father over the head with – Check

On the positive side, the hotel itself is beautiful, especially the exterior shots. Overall, the camerawork in the film is excellent. In addition, there was a bright spot of acting from Shezi Sibongizeni, who does great work as Thembi. However, I will also say that there were some good ideas about the Tokoloshe myth that just weren’t explored enough here. I believe if the filmmakers had stuck more to idea of the Tokoloshe creature itself enacting revenge against the people who stole the land rather than having the hotel being haunted ala The Shining, the film would have been more successful.

This is not a film I would recommend. For another review of the same African creacture, read my take on 2018’s The Tokoloshe here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vILMFFVg3Sc

About Christine Burnham

When not writing, Christine Burnham is watching TV, Horror films, reading, cooking, and spending time with her menagerie of animals.

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