Akay Mason’s thriller is bold, daring and one of the best films I’ve seen.
Right after Dare’s (Timini Egbuson) feathers were ruthlessly plucked by the bar owners he’s owing 200k, he stormed out with his broke wingmen, shouting, “This is bullshit.” Dare has been scorned. He has been betrayed by his ATM Card that was constantly declined; by his friends who have little to nothing on them; and the bar owners who seized his father’s staff as ransom. “This is bullshit.” As they make their way to his car, a hand-held camera follows them closely, transporting you into the scene. The more he yelled, the more you feel Dare’s anger and embarrassment – Egbuson’s acting has never been well recorded. The intimacy of that shot puts you in the scene with them and even allows you to pity this spoilt brat. That was when I knew I was going to enjoy watching it, and before I was done, I’d concluded that it was one of the best films I’ve seen.
Earlier, I’d seen Yemi Solade in all his glory. After that scene, I saw Shaffy Bello bring out her inner Angela Basset into a scene that rivals, and even beats out King of Boys’ Living Room 3-way Shout Fest for best Nollywood scene of all time. I’m making a lot of bold statements because this film empowers. The attention to detail and inclusive directing takes away all your Nollywood fears cos I’ve never seen another Nollywood film with enough creative security that keeps knocking me out as I try to access its flaws. At a point, I said ‘I aint gonna let a Nollywood film join my 9/10 gang, there’s a mistake somewhere.’ I had a rewatch and it turned out what I thought was an error was a subtle blink-and-you-will-miss-it brilliance that fell my hand.
In the aforementioned best scene, Dare confronts his mother about money, ATMs and bank accounts. Dare’s ex and his Mum’s husband watch from the sidelines and it just blows your mind. One technique the film hires is insert literal outsiders into intense situations to stand in for us, the audience, so we can watch through their eyes, or them through ours. See what I’m saying?
That all-in approach and intimacy can be found throughout the film: from Shaggi’s Eba joint to inside the elevator itself. Akay Mason (director) keeps switching the POV: If we ain’t watching Dare through Abigail’s eyes, we watching Abigail through his or we are getting access through phone calls from outsiders. One way or the other, it stops being a movie in those scenes and becomes a live experience.
The world of mama’s boy, Dare Williams and pregnant Abigail, collide inside an Elevator that’s trapped them inside due to power supply. (My mum thinks the company could have rented a generator nearby for power but let’s address sins at the end.)
Per the film’s runtime, Dare and Abigail were trapped inside the elevator for 45 minutes. And boy, was it intense?! EB doesn’t give you room to chill or look away. The only time you let out cheerful air are during the laughs, which are plenty. The film is able to hold its own against all that could possibly go wrong in a 90-minute film that spends half of its runtime in an elevator.
I’ve been postponing watching EB for months because I was too hyped. I had heard a lot and I knew good or not, this film will usher me into fulltime Nollywood criticism. I’m glad it is this brilliant and expertly crafted thriller that begins my journey. First time director, Mason, pulls out all the stops to make an error free project in an industry that’s been about trials and errors for a decade now.
The dialogues and performances are exceptional. They are surprisingly not cliched, and the interactions are well placed to mirror reality. EB is the thin line between satire and drama. It’s the Nigerian flag made of see-through mirrors. What happened outside the elevator is ingenious. Though it tries to cram all of Nigeria into one film: let’s talk about pregnant women and secretaries; power supply and media stations; social media and mainstream culture; Jedi Jedi people and Lagos traffic; Nigerians watching Game of Thrones in hot afternoon and broke lazy boys reading 1001 Ways to Make Money. They are all hilariously detailed but some just fell out of place.
And VFX should learn to be calming down. An elevator cannot free fall at that speed without killing someone. The cable no cut, na Nepa take light. And let’s be managing Toyin Abraham well, biko. She’s too good to be inconsistent even if several scripts make her that way. She speaks in fairly decent English language throughout the film until the hospital at the end when she enters total illiterate mode. Let’s be calming down, Elevator Director.
I have to say this: EB answers the question of who’s to blame in Nollywood for the terrible performances in some movies. Writers and directors are the culprits. The actors on EB, who delivered some of the best performances of their careers, have been in critically panned films with reviews that bastardized their talents. Akay Mason’s EB is proof that well-written characters and a motivated director will push our thespians into perfection. Even Shaggi finally played a purposeful funny man. I’m happy I saw this film. I’m double happy this film was made. Welcome to my 9/10 team, EB. I can’t wait to see you again, again and again.
9/10. Like I needed to add this again.