It’s time for some monster chasing as I take on four Prime films about encounters with creatures that myths are made of: Crypsis, Drowning Echo, Tokoloshe: An African Curse, and The Tokoloshe.
Crypis is as straightforward as you need a creature feature to be. It also lands on my sausage fest scares page because it’s about a group of cute buddies that decides to a camping challenge on a deserted island infamous for some urban legends. Once they get there they discover they’re not alone.
As simple as it is, Crypsis brings some unexpected surprises and is also not without its faults.
The film combines standard camera POV with moments of found footage POV to mix things up a bit and offer a variety of suspense styles.
And there is plenty of suspense to be had. Perhaps too much for some viewers since a majority of the film features the guys running around the woods encountering and running from the humanoid creature. And by that I mean nobody dies for almost the entire movie. But damn, there is one chase scene that made me squirm.
The guys continuously make dumb decisions, the most obvious being that they keep splitting up. But even worse, rather than just setting up camp in the open space of the shore so they could see anything approaching, they keep delving into the woods with all its blind spots and vulnerable areas.
While the guys at times seem to be reacting quite unrealistically to what they are experiencing, many of their interactions are humorous, and there’s also something oddly, realistically bro-ish about their behavior. However, I do feel that there simply wasn’t enough shirt removal…
The humanoid monster’s design is fantastic and frightening (while also very familiar), and we get to see plenty of it. My only real gripe is that the ending feels a little too determined to add something surprising and takes way too long to get to the point.
DROWNING ECHO (2018)
This is a really odd mystical creature plot—it’s reminiscent of supernatural horror of the early 2000s (there’s even a “girl in a well” aspect thrown into the legend), but it is ultimately so absurd that it’s hard to take seriously.
Basically, a supernatural female water demon of legend has…um…resurfaced in a pool at an apartment complex where a group of friends lives. The new girl on the block becomes haunted by dreams or delusions of being attack by something we don’t initially get to see in the water.
This entity seems to be drowning people even if they aren’t in the pool.
Another girl has gone to research the demon in Greece (WTF?) and video chats a found footage segment of what she experiences to her friend back home at the complex.
There’s a strange dude always lurking around who warns the main girl that she’s in danger…but he also seems to be feeding people to the pool. The main girl goes to see a psychic medium whose reading backs up the strange dude’s warning.
And then a CGI slithery water creature starts coming into the rooms of the complex.
There’s too much going on, the legend is more complicated than it needs to be, the plot is all over the place, there’s some hot boy bod, the final fight in the pool is kind of cool, and the film runs way too long at nearly an hour and fifty minutes.
So basically, I have mixed emotions about this one.
TOKOLOSHE: AN AFRICAN CURSE (2020)
The first of two movies in this blog about an African legend, this one runs only 67 minutes long. It was not enough time to make me understand anything about Tokoloshe, in part because of a non-linear narrative, and partly becomes this comes across mostly as a love letter to The Shining.
This movie is predominantly comprised of well-crafted footage with some good horror imagery—a montage of incessant jumps from one spooky setup shot to another.
Basically the movie is about an adult woman recounting the time she spent in a hotel with her mother and father as a child, which is still giving her nightmares.
Unfortunately, we never really get a chance to know any of the characters enough to be frightened for them.
The barrage of clips includes the young girl riding around the hotel on a scooter car she is way too old and tall to be riding, two creepy girls standing side by side in the hall, and the father becoming more and more bizarre until he eventually chases after the wife.
Despite a few quick still shots of a ghastly creature’s face that might actually just be a close-up of an exotic ape for no apparent reason, I got the impression the film is implying the Tokoloshe is a shapeshifter.
THE TOKOLOSHE (2018)
My second Tokoloshe selection was a much more polished film with the bleak tone and atmosphere of supernatural spectre horror of the early 2000s.
It’s a tale of a woman in Africa who takes a job at a children’s hospital reminiscent of a place you didn’t want to enter in Silent Hill. She faces all the degradation a woman might expect from a male dominated society as she struggles just to keep a job and a roof over her head.
She also experiences several creepy occurrences in the hospital as she explores areas that look like something out of Saw.
The film really takes off when she helps a little girl patient who says she is being terrorized by the Tokoloshe. It’s actually a tragic look at two individuals both in desperate need of caring human interaction who manage to find it under the worst possible circumstances.
There are some incredibly effective scenes as the woman becomes more involved with the little girl, which ends up welcoming the Tokoloshe into her life as well. Like all horror flicks of this sort, it is up to the pair to run, hide, and inevitably confront the creature that is tormenting them.
This is definitely a nice throwback film, and the creature looks pretty cool in that polished CGI way. What’s kind of ironic is that this second Tokoloshe film has a natural maze chase scene that is also reminiscent of The Shining.
However, I researched the mythology of the Tokoloshe, and neither of these two final films in this blog even vaguely presents the actual defining aspects of the legend.