Nigeria: Sequel of Kunle’s Aníkúlápó to Hit Cinema on March 1, 2024.

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Aníkúlápó: Rise of the Spectre’ is the follow-up to Kunle Afolayan’s 2022 Netflix movie, ‘Aníkúlápó.

 

The initial scenes in ‘Aníkúlápó: Rise of the Spectre’ transport viewers back to bustling pre-colonial Yoruba towns, showcasing flourishing trade, friendly travelers, and hospitable communities.

 

In this installment, a continuation of Kunle Afolayan’s 2022 Netflix movie ‘Aníkúlápó,’ the character Saro (played by Kunle Remi), a charming but superficial, uncouth, and not-so-bright protagonist, takes center stage.



After seemingly meeting his demise in ‘Aníkúlápó,’ Saro finds himself brought back to the living by a light-skinned gatekeeper with flowing hair. Is it mere coincidence or a hint that divinity takes diverse forms? The prequel reveals Saro’s past transgressions, having stolen Akala’s gourd to play God in deciding life and death. Now, he’s compelled to settle his debt by returning as a spirit to collect the souls he disrupted. Striking a pact with one of them, Saro transforms into an Akudaya, a Yoruba mythical ghost, tasked with restarting life in a new family, far removed from their place of burial.

 

Despite being granted a second chance, Saro fails to lead a purposeful life and quickly reverts to his old ways. Discovering a friendly town, aided by spectral allies, he promptly establishes a palm wine bar and initiates a pursuit of the village Belle, portrayed by Oyindamola Sanni.

 

In ‘Aníkúlápó: Rise of the Spectre,’ Afolayan explores the historical sexual freedom Yoruba women once enjoyed, contrasting it with present challenges. This narrative thread echoes the shift from a time of freedom to contemporary struggles against harassment in Lagos. Sola Sobowale’s Awarun embarks on a new romantic journey with Basorun, embodying the evolving dynamics within the community.

 

Meanwhile, the film introduces a subplot where a young maiden undergoes her sexual awakening with Saro. Afolayan skillfully navigates the cultural landscape, highlighting a historical lack of emphasis on consent. The storyline raises questions about love and the potential predatory nature of Saro, blurring the lines between willing partners and exploitative relationships.

 

Afolayan handles the “sexual” scenes with nuance, presenting them as a poignant case study in a time when consent has become a prominent societal conversation. The director captures the ambiguity surrounding love and exploitation, portraying Saro as both a potential partner and a force to be reckoned with. This approach invites viewers to contemplate the complexities of consent within a changing cultural context, where traditional norms intersect with contemporary values. The portrayal leaves room for interpretation, emphasizing that the woman involved has experienced more than she bargained for in her interactions with Saro.

 

From the outskirts, where kind travelers and hospitable communities once thrived, a reflective pause prompts contemplation on the path taken over two centuries. The contrast is stark in modern Nigeria, where the hospitality once bestowed upon Saro has dwindled. Attempting to find a house as an Igbo person in Lagos reveals fragments of that generosity, but it’s far from the flagrant warmth of the past. The emergence of apartment ads bearing discriminatory notes like “No Igbos” or “Yoruba preferably” underscores this transformation.

 

Yet, amidst these societal shifts, Afolayan’s adherence to the conventions of old Yoruba language Nollywood production presents a distinct challenge for the series and his directorial journey. The dialogue, at times, feels monotonous, and the themes appear didactic, akin to a sermon on ancient Yoruba morality. This refusal to break free from established norms becomes a stumbling block, potentially impeding the series and hindering Afolayan’s growth as a director.

 

Aníkúlápó: Rise of the Spectre offers reasons for celebration. Afolayan, a master of crafting authentic period sets and sourcing vintage objects, excels in bringing films to life. The opulent halls where the Kabiyesis hold court radiate the essence of the era, and the portrayal of interiors in the tiny huts provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of epic Nollywood movies. While the towns succeed in conveying a sense of grandeur for the time, they may not be Apartment Therapy-ready.

 

As the series begins streaming on March 1, 2024, fans will undoubtedly gravitate towards it, considering its position at the forefront of a new wave of Nollywood production emphasizing excellence. The challenges within Aníkúlápó: Rise of the Spectre are not solely about the series itself or Afolayan’s approach but reflect broader issues within Nollywood. It underscores the considerable strides made by the Nigerian film industry.

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