“Inspired by true events” is what the title card of the film reads and indeed it is. Directed by Toka McBaror, the movie dramatizes the October 2012 Nigerian Aluu Four lynching. Four men, Lloyd Toku, Ugonna Obuzor, Tekena Elkanah, and Chiadika Biringa were falsely accused of stealing in the Aluu community. Then all four of them were lynched. The event shocked the country and made people aware of extrajudicial killings.
The film opens with a shot of a half-naked man who has been beaten up badly. He is disoriented, heavily injured with blood oozing from his wounds, and looks scared. It’s a haunting shot that makes viewers realize the gravity of the incident the film is trying to portray. But the film doesn’t jump into the point about jungle justice it is trying to make right away. It first builds up the four characters who were involved in the lynching.
All of them are college students who dream of being world-famous rappers. In fact, the movie dedicates a good chunk of its runtime familiarizing the audience with the dreams and hopes of these innocent boys. It’s bittersweet because we know what’s coming. But that’s not it. The film doesn’t skimp out on showing the relationships these characters have with each other and with other people in their lives. We witness the deep friendships and the conflicts they have with others regarding their school work and dreams of being musicians.
Also, the movie makes the core conflict clear from the get-go. We are told that Uchenna, who went to London and brought back jeans and sneakers, sold them to Wisdom. But the latter didn’t pay Uchenna. So the four head up to Wisdom’s place to get the money. The first time they head there, two of them are warned about the perilous social situation of the area. A lady selling plantains warns them that they should get the food and go back to where they came from.
But the amount is too big to let go and Uchenna doesn’t want to be played for a fool. So the boys hire a bodyguard and head to Wisdom’s place in the early hours of the day to get their money. But things take a wrong turn in the dangerous community where Wisdom lives and the four of them get accused of theft. The people living there are incensed and no one believes the boys’ narrative.
Gradually, the situation escalates further and ends in mob justice as a horde of men brutally kills the students. The camera doesn’t shy away from showing the extreme violence inflicted on the boys. We see the blood, gore, wounds, and humiliation the students faced in crystal clarity. Overall, ‘Dark October’ is a haunting portrayal of real-life events where four innocent boys lost their lives. While it does feel that the film simplifies the circumstances and incident, the message about extrajudicial killing still works.
With a runtime of 1 hour and 48 mins, the movie is the perfect watch if you are looking for accurate adaptations of real-world events.
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