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Tokoloshe: The Calling - Movie Review

Tokoloshe: The Calling

Because this type of evil never dies.

That’s what happens when you build upon stolen and cursed land or so the legend goes.  With the spooks, the scares, and the intensity cranked to absolute 11, Tokoloshe: The Calling takes the challenge of presenting South African cultural horror to the masses and turns what could have been a solid example of gritty, low budget horror into an unfortunate retread of what audiences have seen before. 

"the surrounding hotel location and its haunts feels too much like a retread to be solely original"


 

If you can't tell, I am a bit disappointed.  I wanted to like this film and, based on its engaging opening, I thought I would, but - once we arrive at the actual hotel - everything about this tale reminded me of The Shining.

Directed by Richard Green and co-written by Arish Sirkissoon, Tokoloshe: The Calling begins as an example of genuine low budget creepiness as images, sounds, and symbols all blend together to create a rousing, supernatural tale of cultural and gender diversity within the very haunted walls of an abandoned hotel located in South Africa.  Unfortunately, the film then takes its haunted hotel location into Kubrick Land and stays there too long for its own good as there are some direct ties to The Shining, including a writer, ghostly little girls, a caretaker, and a bartender.  Big OOPS when it comes to selling itself on authenticity. 

Available on digital September 3 from Terror Films, Tokoloshe : The Calling and its frightful occurrences happen almost immediately when Arish Verma (Arish Sirkissoon), a successful writer and media personality, takes his Angelina (Angela Balkovic) and adopted daughter Ntombi (Lwandile Xaba) to an abandoned hotel in The Transkei, located in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, to finish his much-anticipated follow up novel. 

Once there, strange things begin to occur inside the hotel almost immediately. The family soon learns that the hotel has a dark past in which many murders were carried out since it opened in 1808, including rumors that the land is cursed due to being stolen from its native people. Tokoloshe: The Calling

Meanwhile, in a city nearby, Thembi (Shezi Sibongiseni), a high school teacher is experiencing strange visions and dreams, as “something” seems to be calling her back to the same hotel for some unfinished (and very deadly) business.  This is a horror film where on-screen confusion - thanks to random edits, time jumps, and scares - builds toward a slow burn of paranoia as one hotel’s bloody history re-emerges from the past to deal its deadly hand again.

Using the atmospheric haunts previously seen in Kubrick’s The Shining as its guide for its own hotel full of ghostly thrills, chills, and spills, the film is a bit of a letdown if you are expecting something that is strictly from South Africa.  Does it work on its own?  Sure, you just have to wade through some very familiar scenes and situations as The Overlook Hotel is spotted throughout.  Yes, the cultural legend is authentic to South Africa, but the surrounding hotel location and its haunts feels too much like a retread to be solely original. 

The plus side is that the film is well acted and, eventually, Tokoloshe: The Calling works itself up into a flurry of seemingly random jumps, edits, and scenes that - once decoded - all fit together to create the puzzle that is the mythical creature known as the Tokoloshe.  It just can't escape from being very familiar - especially to Horror Hounds.

From writer/director Richard Green, and starring Sir Roel Twijnstra, Sibongiseni Shezi and Angela Balkovic, The Tokoloshe : The Calling is available on digital platforms Sep 3 from Terror Films.  All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy indeed.

2/5 stars

Film Details

Tokoloshe: The Calling

MPAA Rating: PG-13 on appeal for crude sexual content and language.
Runtime:
75 mins
Director
: Richard Green
Writer:
Richard Green; Arish Sirkissoon
Cast:
Angela Balkovic; Rubendra Govender; Sanjay Laljith
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
The Fear is Real.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Distributor:
Terror Films
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/thetokoloshemovie
Release Date:
September 3, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

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.

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Tokoloshe: The Calling

 

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