Movie Title: Origin: Madam Koi Koi
Release date: November 7, 2023
Director: Jay Franklyn Jituboh
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes (average per part)
Cast: Ireti Doyle, Chioma Akpotha Chukwuka Jude, Martha Ehinome, Nene Aliemeke, Tolulope Odebunmi, Omowunmi Dada, Ejiro Onojaife, Chuks Joseph, Kevin T. Solomon, Temidayo Akinboro, Iremide Adeoye and Racheal Emem Issac.
Most Nigerians who attended boarding schools in the 1990s could not sleep at night, sometimes because of the stories whispered in their ears. Unlike morality stories like “The Tortoise and the Hare,” these folklores were more sinister, focusing on terrifying creatures like Bush Baby, Madam Koi Koi, and Mr. Cabin. Despite their exciting effect, these folklores have become a staple of many Nigerian guesthouses.
Imagine the wave of nostalgia when Nigerians learned that Netflix was releasing a two-part film about Mrs. Koi Koi, providing a relatively new interpretation of how the creature of the night came to be.
Several Nigerian films boast of horror, but they need to catch up on the essential elements of what constitutes a horror film. With a cast of talented actors, top-notch cinematography, and well-executed special effects, “The Origin Story: Madam Koi Koi” stands out, positioning itself as a contender in the horror genre and a model for producers.
Lady Koi Koi
However, in the second half, the film fails to completely separate itself from horror tropes and becomes anticlimactic, bland and uninteresting. It also deviates from the popular idea of who Madam Koi Koi is, rewriting her as a stomping monster-like creature rather than the ghost of a lady who sends shivers down the spine at the sound of her heels.
The year is 1991 and we see a young woman and her daughter, Amanda, driving towards Malomo, a small town. Amanda argues with her mother against attending a boarding house. Despite her constant refusal, she quickly adjusts and finds comfort in the hands of her new friend/bunkmate. During their first meeting, her new best friend warns her to avoid a group of guys known for treating women harshly.
Amanda refuses to believe him until one morning, a girl seen with the children cries about being raped. Earlier that morning, at midnight, the girl was invited by Idowu, one of the boys and the person she was dating, to a house outside the school. When she arrived, the four boys cornered her and raped her.
Feeling guilty, Idowu follows her. Unfortunately, a mysterious creature emerges from a red light and kills him.
The rest of the morning, it made everyone, especially Mother Superior, the school principal, panic because Idowu was nowhere to be found. News soon reached the school that the body of a boy wearing the school uniform was located in the forest. The Mother Superior, in an attempt to protect the rest of the children and the reputation of the school, denies that the body bears any resemblance to the school. Fortunately, her lie is accepted since the corpse’s face was disfigured.
The rest of the first half of the film shows Amanda having several visions in which she sees the creature emerging from the shadows and killing the people around her. Towards the end of part one, we learn how the beast came to be; Some men from the town raped her to death.
Part 2 provides more context. A few years ago there was a witchcraft trial against a woman. The injustice against the woman caused her spirit to wander through the city, so when Omo was raped, she took that opportunity to possess her corpse and take revenge on the city. The school’s security porter and former herbalist, Baba Fawole, narrated the story of the monster’s origin.
Together with two detectives, Baba Fawole sets out to find a solution to banish the monster from the city. Simply put, they realize that to get rid of the beast, they must identify the person whose presence unleashed the monster and risk their lives.
The cinematography was top notch. As Generation Z would say: “he Gave what he was supposed to give.” The camera movements, the bright lighting, and even the sound sent chills down the spine. The way the cameras were tilted while Amanda had strange dreams of her added more depth to the story and made it aesthetically pleasing.
The casting was also spot on in the film, especially Mother Superior. After watching “The Origin Story: Madam Koi Koi,” it’s hard to imagine Ireti Doyle being anything other than a two-faced nun who would do anything to keep her head up. The actors who played the boys were also convincing in coming across as disgusting men/rapists who you would want to punch in the face.
Now, let’s talk about those visual effects. The terrifying scene where Madam Koi Koi emerged was moving; The red lights and black fog surrounding her were a good creative choice. The makeup done on the faces and bodies of the corpses was next level. It was just the right amount of blood.
Lady-Koi-Koi The Bad
Part of the film’s problem lies in the writing. “The Origin Story: Madam Koi Koi” is divided into two parts; The first part is excellent and offers viewers an element of suspense. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the second part, as it was predictable. The clues and mysteries were on the nose, taking the joy out of trying to figure things out for viewers. For example, it was evident that Amanda was the unknown figure who triggered the creature’s arrival. The way Baba found out she was the one was effortless, super easy and barely an inconvenience.
“Madam Koi Koi” also lacked credibility. The producers want us to believe that Amanda quickly agreed to be offered as a sacrifice or something, no one spoke of Idowu’s disappearance again, the town, in some strange and unspoken way, found out about the rape case that triggered the event, which The death of a couple of villagers/rapists was generalized as the imminent death of an entire community. There were exaggerations and several violations of the “show, don’t tell” rule.
ALSO READ: MOVIE REVIEW: Biodun Stephens Big Love Captures Hearts But Fails To Live Up To Expectations
Lastly, what happened to Madam Koi Koi? Refers to the creative direction of the character. While it’s understandable that the producers want to put a spin on folklore, it felt like they deprived the film of the essence of its name. Stories about Madam Koi Koi have focused on the sound her shoes made. The film goes astray by having “Madam Koi Koi” stomp around.
7/10. “The Origin: Madam Koi Koi” shows that Nollywood producers are finally taking the risk of exploring horror while still sticking to indigenous elements. While it has its flaws, based on its plot, the film promises to be a horrible watch (in a good way).
“The Origin: Madam Koi Koi” is now streaming on Netflix.