SHORT FILM REVIEWS

NOTES ON PRECIOUS HARRY’S ANOTHER MURDER

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Precious Harry’s eight-minute indie short film opens with the only characters we see on screen throughout the film: an unnamed psychologist (the fact that the psychologist is unnamed throughout the film might symbolize her representation of the average Nigerian psychologist) and a young man, Tokunbo Olaotan. Tokunbo, who has lost both parents within two years, comes for counselling because he needs someone to talk to.

One would think he is grieving or having mental disorders as a result of his loss. This is proven by the therapist referring to “his demons”. He also claims that his mother still speaks to him and follows him everywhere even though she is dead. This way, the film draws the attention of the viewer to empathize with Tokunbo. However, things take a drastic turn when Tokunbo reveals that he is, in fact, the killer of his sister and parents. A major thing one can notice in the film is the emotional reaction (or its absence) of the psychologist.  The psychologist, after hearing the confession of someone who has murdered three people, does not react with terror like any normal human would. While some people might argue that she conducted herself and took the news like a professional in her field, I dare argue that she is first of all a human being who has emotions before she is a trained psychologist.

Something else that comes to attention is the lack of believability. Believability, like the word implies, simply means the quality that makes a story capable of being believed. When Tokunbo starts to confess, we see the psychologist bring out her phone to record the conversation. While it is believable that the psychologist would violate the confidentiality expected of a professional, that shot is not properly executed. Firstly, she is not covert enough, as the person she is trying to hide the phone from is sitting in the exact opposite direction and can see her. Secondly, she places the phone on the table, making it quite obvious what she is trying to do. (This makes me then ask, why is Tokunbo surprised towards the end of the film when he discovers that the psychologist has been recording all along?). It would have been a different case if the psychologist brings out the phone when Tokunbo’s attention is divided by, say, a phone call or something he bends down to pick up from the floor.

Furthermore, it is quite absurd that after the confession, the psychologist wants to call the police. Even a layman would be smart enough to know that someone who killed his mother for the same reason (wanting to inform the police), would stop at nothing to kill anyone who tries to do anything similar. I would say the film makes it quite unclear as to whether the psychologist is a professional or not. However, from the way events play out, it is clear she is either professional and not smart enough, or simply unprofessional. To further buttress this point, Tokunbo is a psychopath (he murders his three family members and is still not remorseful for crying out loud!), and should be treated by the psychologist with discretion. 

The acting in this film, however, contributes to the film’s lack of believability. For instance, Tokunbo tries to stammer “I felt unseen. I…I felt like an outcast”, and makes it obvious that he is acting. At this point, I became disconnected from the character and the world around the character, and became very aware that I was seeing just actors trying to follow a script. This made it quite difficult for me to reconnect in the subsequent sequences of the film. Also, in the dialogues between the psychologist and Tokunbo, the actors are too conscious of the fact that they were acting, causing the sequences not to be as natural as they should have been.

Another Murder tries to introduce a twist at the end, in that the killer’s attempt to commit another murder becomes his final attempt to do anything at all, and becomes the psychologist’s first murder. I wonder though, if the twist also leaves the viewer wondering about the undertones of the film: Can a psychologist kill a patient? Is a psychologist, who also happens to be a woman, capable of doing this? The viewer, though unsatisfied, might end up being reminded of the twistedness of the world and its contexts. And maybe, just maybe, this is the point the film (believable or not) hopes to drive home.

Fancy Goodman

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