The Weekend

Tribeca 2024: The Weekend Is a Thrilling Film About the Horrors of Family Dinner

You don’t choose your family. Some of us are blessed with loving homes, and others come from complicated situations. The Weekend, a fun new thriller from Nigeria, features one hell of a complicated situation.  

Nikya (Uzoamaka Aniunoh) is an orphan, but she’s begun the journey of starting a new family with her fiance, Luc (Bucci Franklin).  She is desperate for a family and, after finding out that she is pregnant, pushes Luc to go away for the weekend to visit his family.  The problem is that Luc is estranged from said family and hasn’t had any contact with them for many years.  It’s clear that he is uncomfortable with the very idea of going home, but ultimately he relents and they agree to go for just the weekend, for a party his parents are throwing.   It is to be a family dinner that no one will soon forget. 

Once they arrive at the remote family home, and after a tense encounter at a security checkpoint, we are introduced to Luc’s family.  His father, Meki (Keppy Ekpenyong Bassey), is a proud patriarch who shares an immediately palpable tension with his son.  His mother, Omicha (Gloria Anozie Young), is overjoyed to have her son back home.  His sister Kama (Meg Otanwa), a headstrong young woman who has brought home her boyfriend, Zeido (James Gardiner), an abusive misogynist whom everyone except Luc and Nykia seems content to tolerate.  Also present is Ben (Damilola Ogunsi), a local handyman who is wary of these kids coming home. 

The Weekend
(L-R) Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey (Meki), Gloria Anozie-Young (Omicha), Bucci Franklin (Luke) and Uzoamaka Aniunoh (Nikya) Luc’s parents welcome him accompanied by his fiancee after fifteen years since he’d been home. Photographer: Kagho Idhebor

The early scenes of the film have a thick tension. Luc doesn’t like Zeido; Zeido is, generously, a piece of shit; Kama is mad at Luc for being absent; Omicha and Meki like Nykia, but Luc seems desperate to keep her in the dark about something about his family. Franklin has the most to do here, while Luc constantly verbally spars with Zeido. At the same time, he is trying to keep his family from revealing whatever mysterious darkness they may or may not be hiding. 

Advertisements

Aniunoh does well in these scenes, too, and in particular, has a tense showdown with Zeido in which she stands up to his misogyny, something he is neither used to nor cares for. Gardiner, for his part, does an excellent job of making Zeido just about as unlikable as possible, and it’s an extremely effective performance, so when his character gets his comeuppance, it’s satisfying despite also being brutal.  

The Weekend is truly a horror film, and it shows its hand in the back half.  I won’t spoil it here, but you may not be able to stomach it. Otanwa gives perhaps the most compelling performance overall, as Kama is both headstrong and dutiful and becomes a force to be reckoned with as the story progresses.  

Things are revealed to the audience and to Nykia at different times too, so there are sequences where she remains in the dark that are highly effective. Once Luc finally reveals to her the full extent of why he never wanted to come home, Aniunoh’s shock and horror are sincere and believable, and as a viewer you just want to get her out of there.  Of course, that doesn’t happen, and things come off the rails in the third act in bloody fashion.

The Weekend
(Clockwise) Bucci Franklin (Luc), Uzoamaka Aniunoh (Nikya), Gloria Anomie-Young (Omicha), Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey (Meki), Meg Otanwa (Kama) and James Gardiner (Zeido). The Chezeta family having dinner on the parent’s wedding anniversary. Photographer: Kagho Idhebor

The Weekend feels like perhaps it has some budgetary limitations, but it finds a way to work within those limitations incredibly well. The scrappy nature of itall actually works in the film’s favour, enhancing the rural and remote setting of the family home and really getting into the middle of some of the third-act action. Those with a keen eye may see some of the twists and turns coming, but director Daniel Oriahi does a great job of teasing out those reveals in fun, tension-building ways.

Advertisements

Overall, the film is a good time at the movies and a great reminder that we don’t get to choose our family and that we don’t always get to run from them, either.  It’s truly exciting to see a Nigerian film at such a large North American festival, and if this is any indication, I can’t wait to see more.

The Weekend premiered at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival. 



Comments

Advertisement



Advertisement


Advertisement