After making a deal with the devil, a man tries to make amends in 8, a South African horror movie steeped in folklore.
Writer-director Harold Hölscher tells a simple story set in rural South Africa in 1977. A couple takes a lonely orphaned girl under the wing, moving the family into an isolated farm house. After the young girl befriends a kindly old man named Lazarus, a series of sinister events begin to unfold. A man haunted by the loss of his wife and daughter, Lazarus is plagued by memories of pain and suffering. With the nearby village teeming with rumours of Lazarus’ dabbling in dark magic and devils, the slow burning story eventually dips into supernatural horror territory.
Starring Inge Beckmann, Garth Breytenbach, and Tshambo Sebe, Hölscher’s film is quiet, deliberately paced and atmospheric. The real star is the South African landscape, which the director makes full use of.
While 8 lacks jump scares and genre tropes, and instead unfolds like a mysterious puzzle, the film fails to deliver on some of the story’s more horrific elements.
Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough to keep most audiences entertained for the film’s runtime, proving sometimes a slow burn is just too slow.
8 premiered at Fantasia in July, and plays at Toronto After Dark on Tuesday, October 22.
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