Spoilers almost expected a tumbleweed to blow by.

This movie belongs to the action-horror subgenre but I also found it heavily influenced by the not-quite-dead western genre. There’s a little bit of everything, including adventure and even something of a crime thriller flavour. Long story short, you might want to see this one for yourself. It works best when you don’t know much about what to expect, and hopefully mainstream audiences will give it a chance. It’s actually pretty much a genre film at its core.

(Credit: Lacme Studios)

Saloum (2021) is directed by Jean Luc Herbulot who wrote the screenplay with producer Pamela Diop. Three legendary mercenaries known as the Bangui Hyenas: Chaka (Yann Gael), Rafa (Roger Sallah) and Midnight (Mentor Ba) have just retrieved a drug lord and obtained a considerable gold loot from Guinea-Bissou. Forced to make an unscheduled landing they hide out in a haunted region of Saloum, Senegal. There they find refuge with a local named Omar (Bruno Henry) who runs a camp where people can stay in exchange for small chores. However, everyone around them has secrets. Awa (Evelyne Ily Juhen), a deaf-mute woman who knows too much about the Hyenas, wants in or she will expose them to the local police captain. The worst secret is among the Hyenas themselves.

Change the mercenaries for gunslingers and this movie is basically a western. Added into the mix is the local haunting legends of the region that turn out to be real as the entire group is attacked by supernatural entities. The special effects might not live up to Hollywood standards, but the characters and the storyline sell this on their own. This is a rather tense showdown full of bullets, knives and mysticism. The filmmakers have succeeded in creating their own world of legend with its own lore. The characters are engaging each with their own agenda. Furthermore, don’t go expecting the film to be trying to set up any sequels. Everything and everyone is on the line.

Strongly recommended. Horror, action, adventure and a revenge plot come alive naturally in a film that organically sets everything up. The special effects might not be a breakthrough but the story and the performances carry the film further than most mainstream action movies. Definitely worth a watch.

That will do for now.