On IMDb, Blood in the Lagoon, the near unwatchable film, helmed by Teco Benson has a production date of 2013. It was premiered in the United States back in 2014 and was supposed to be Omotola Jalade Ekeinde’s final major project before her extended hibernation from the hassles of filmmaking.
For reasons surely related to the film’s utter unpleasantness, Blood in the Lagoon was held back for the longest time, and only makes its way to Nigerian cinemas, almost four years after. A lot of things have changed since then. Ms Jalade Ekeinde has since made her comeback. Hint: It wasn’t pretty. She has put on some more weight, so has Okey Uzoeshi who receives second billing here. Having seen both actors in more recent fare this year, watching them the way they were, in real time becomes a crisis in credibility.
Blood in the Lagoon hasn’t aged well, not in the least and its producers may have been better served, sending it quietly, straight to video. No one would have shed any tears. Perhaps no one would have noticed. And it would have been just as well. The film is strangely lit, poorly acted, choppily edited, lazily written and carelessly directed. Nothing works here, and no one survives the hurricane.
Not Teco Benson (Two Brides and a Baby, State of Emergency) whose hand barely registers beyond a dodgy fight scene hurriedly attached to give some semblance of a thrill. It fails woefully. Not Ms Jalade Ekeinde who turns in a performance- if it can be called that- that someone of her caliber should be deeply ashamed of. It isn’t enough that her character goes by the banal name, Scarlett Bello, at some point, for international business speak, Ekeinde is saddled with the unintelligent line, ‘’Africa is the next frontier.’’
Even the reliable Okey Uzoeshi, is proof here that bad films can happen to good actors. Although anyone new to his work would be hard pressed believing he is capable of churning out good stuff. The same fate befalls every actor unfortunate enough to be cast in this turkey. Akin Lewis, Pa Eddie Ugbomah, Bobby Michael, Ufuoma McDermott, Cassandra Odita. Not one redeeming element.
The impoverished, riverine community of Makoko is the primary setting. Two brothers, George and Michael Dibiya (Ebenezer Joseph, Abiodun Kassim) dream of getting out of their present circumstances and lifting their widowed mother out of poverty. But dreams take a while to come true so in the meantime, both brothers combine schooling with fishing in the lagoon’s waters and trading their catch for a few Nairas. They are barely surviving and the film makes a big show of depicting the squalor and sense of hopelessness pervasive in underprivileged communities like this.
On one particular expedition, both brothers on Michael’s urging, move too close to a private yacht stowed in the most upscale parts of the lagoon. The consequences are tragic and Blood in the Lagoon follows Michael, tracing his coming of age journey for the first act of the film.
It is not clear why so much reel time is expended on young George. Ebenezer Joseph struggles with the role, just as his character struggles to survive in the city. These parts do not add any relevance to the rest of the film which consequently stalls, only to begin afresh years later, when the grown up George is played by Okey Uzoeshi.
The plot is leaden and plods along so heavily such that at the end when Mr Benson and his writer conjure up some form of suspense from nowhere, it immediately falls flat. The so-called twist is visible from a mile away and the hasty resolution would be laughable if it weren’t so woefully rendered.
To make matters worse, Omotola Jalade Ekeinde and Okey Uzoeshi fail to sell their romance and watching both of them emote in the absence of any form of chemistry has to rank down there as one of the most unconvincing movie moments of the year. It is like someone called them in, handed them scripts and asked them to set about pretending. They don’t pretend well enough.
The title- and plot- hints of cold blooded murder and one tortured soul’s quest for vengeance. But the real victim here is decent taste.