Fright Night: 8 + Critical Response Event
Harold Hölscher | South Africa 2019 | 1h40m | English and Tswana with English subtitles | 15
This Friday 13th, we bring you a screening of South African horror film 8.
Bankruptcy forces William Ziel to return to the farm he inherited from his estranged father in an attempt to start a new life with his young, fragmented family. Lazarus, the farmhand who took care of William’s father in his lonely final hours, reappears soon after. A supposed chance meeting between Mary and Lazarus develops into a bond between two kindred spirits. But Lazarus, the old soul who struggles to find peace in this place of sad memories, carries a dark secret that constantly haunts him.
Content warning: Contains scenes of violence and gore that some viewers may find disturbing.
This film is accompanied by a personal reflection and essay by film critic and horror expert Adam Murray.
Critics Circle Piece
Notes Unbound is our platform for up-and-coming African and Black diaspora film critics and journalists from around the globe to deepen their knowledge of African cinema. Adam Murray wrote about redemption, empathy, catharsis and folk tale in the horror genre for his personal reflection on 8. Below is an excerpt:
This essay is a personal and critical exploration tentatively mapping what horror and Black Horror means to me, giving context to why I believe horror as a genre is capable of providing allegory and exploring subjects and themes, history and the ‘unspoken’ in refreshing and novel new ways. Horror films and comic books were a way for me to process my growing fears and anxieties around race and identity.
From whose perspective do we engage with the morality tale that is slowly unfolding before us? There is a very interesting dichotomy between what Holscher decides to show us visually on screen and what is diegetically said between the characters as we learn that something far more ancient than nation, land, race or politics is at play. 8 is about memories, loss and the dark unspoken secrets that bind us together. How do we process pain and suffering on an existential level, as a community or nation? How do we heal? Can we heal when so much is misunderstood or misinterpreted through the wounds of history, politics or cultural conflict or simply, difference?
The ‘Haunted House’ of the farmstead can be seen as a motif for 70s Apartheid South Africa. 8 is a refreshing thrill ride that reworks the horror genre, showcasing/signalling that there are more infinitely fascinating ways in which horror narratives can provide platforms of possibility for diasporic African storytelling.