It’s very common to see social media posts where someone blames their life challenges on the evil scheming of their ‘village people’, referring to dead ancestors or living relatives who don’t want the best for them. Most of the time, it’s all banter simply because it’s a relief to put the blame on someone else. This trendy dread of familial malevolence is what My Village People plays on, only that the blame is not misplaced.
Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, the film centers on Prince (Bovi Ugboma), a well-to-do middle-aged man whose life takes a very dramatic tumble after he visits his village for his sister’s wedding. His encounter with the village people he’s repeatedly warned about is what sets the direction and tone for this dark comedic film which also features Theresa Edem, Sophie Alakija, Nkem Owoh, Venita Akpofure, Ada Ameh, Binta Ayo-Mogaji, Rachel Oniga, Charles Inojie, Amaechi Muonagor, and Zubby Michael. With this cast, we have one of the best old plus new Nollywood mergers we’ve seen in recent times.
The story is not entirely new but is audacious enough to draw applause. With that said, the film is burdened with very obvious baggage, the most prominent of which is its uninspiring dialogue that takes away a lot of its allure. Verbal interactions between characters are wonky a lot of times, and lacking the spark to light up the film’s complicated and mysterious narrative.
My Village People’s exaggerated and heavy overdependence on comedic relief is another one of the writing shortcomings that drag down the film’s vitality as a horror vehicle. In this case, the comedy constantly upstages the horror because most of the time, Prince has funny lines for a lot of the dreadful encounters he has.
This recurring problem waters down the chilling effect needed to stimulate the audience, leaving us with a washed-up version capable of stirring only a limp emotional engagement.
The movie starts off in a rather promising fashion, but, like Prince’s life trajectory, takes an unfortunate tumble when it is time to start unraveling a lot of its mysteries. The plot becomes shaky, things begin to add up less and less, and there are multiple scenes that completely do nothing for the film to justify their addition to what adds up to a little over two hours of screen time.
Nonetheless, despite comedy getting in the way of the film’s horror elements, it ends up being its saving grace, as the film delivers moments of genuine laughter for most of its runtime. After all, it’s written by an experienced ace comedian. The only time it’s not struggling is when it’s leaning into its domineering comedic side, hitting goldmine after goldmine. Some of the acting is also stellar with Edem and Alakija delivering memorable performances. Bovi’s very confident comedic performance as the film’s leading man is hard to miss.
My Village People ends with a few gaping holes and some unanswered questions that stay with you for a while, but it also provides memorable moments that make it worth the trouble. It’s a decent effort that has leaves us wanting more comedy-horror movies from Nollywood.
Franklin Ugobude is a writer who enjoys covering culture and Nollywood.