Next week Wednesday marks the end of October. And Wednesday, October 31 also happens to be the day when the world marks Halloween, an annual celebration with both pagan and Christian origins that takes place on All Hallows’ Eve (the night before All Saints or All Hallows’ Day). Some online accounts say that the day originated in ancient Scotland with people lighting bonfires, wearing costumes to ward off ghosts (and honour the dead), dancing and giving thanks, but nowadays it’s more synonymous with scary and spooky stuff.
And speaking of scary stuff, here’s what Showmax has lined up on the platform this Halloween:
“Isobel, stop sitting by the edge of the pool. Just jump in and swim”, says Jessica.
“No, you should not swim. It is too dangerous. A girl from our school tried to swim, she died in that part. She’s still here, people have seen her. No swimming,” warns Giggly.
“Awesome. The island’s got a ghost too,” remarks Jessica.
So goes part of the dialogue in the Nightrunners, a Kenyan horror movie set on a mysterious island inhabited by the Luo tribe (which happens to be my own community).
It stars with two young wazungu (Swahili for white) girls – the overly controlled and careful Isobel (Mandi Nicholson), and her free-willed and spontaneous friend, Jessica (Grace Glowicki) – who travel to the island to volunteer at the local orphanage. There they are led to the realm of the supernatural when they encounter the mystical phenomenon of jajuok (Luo for witch or nightrunner), people who roam at night within homesteads, throwing objects and hitting doors, scaring and frightening the inhabitants and waking those who are asleep.
Though soft and less scary in the beginning, the movie gets very creepy, especially when the ghost of the girl who drowned in the lake (as warned by Giggly, who is played by Christopher Oketch) starts appearing regularly to Isobel. The 84-minute movie also stars Neville Misati as Michael, who has a brief fling with Jessica.
“Imagine a place where everything seems different. There is a dead body. Your memory is in disarray. With two hours to find out what happened. Moments. Choices. Memories. Jullie is Consigned to Oblivion”, goes the trailer of this 37-minute long psychological thriller directed by Mark Maina.
After requesting a wake-up call, Jullie (Faith Kibathi) is woken up by the front desk only to find blood all over her hands. But she’s not hurt and the blood is not hers. And she slept in her clothes the previous night but doesn’t remember the hotel where she’s been booked in. Then she makes a grisly discovery in the bathroom…
Other cast members are Kevin Mugo as Nick, Vincent Masore as the hotel security officer and Peninia Nyambura as the hotel maid.
I wish we’d had a chance to know each other. Your grandmother, my mother, did her best to make sure we had never met. She was not without her reasons. The men in our family carried with us something terrible. Kaiser Gardens has been in our family for a very long time. I have held watch for over four decades. But I cannot withstand the burden of this property anymore. I entrust Kaiser Gardens to you. When you reach Kaiser Gardens, there are rules you must obey. Your bloodline is able to access all parts of the property but you must never enter the hidden rooms below the basement. Trust me when I say they’re sealed for a reason along with any objects protected against the hands of outsiders. I wish you well and I ask for your forgiveness. It is a curse, and a blessing. May the spirits be on your side.”
That is the letter addressed to Thomas Kaiser by his deceased uncle, Clive Kaiser, entrusting Kaiser Gardens, an old, mysterious house, to his nephew Thomas. Also attached to the letter is the Title Deed to the property. Clive’s body was later found by the river after an apparent suicide.
It’s at Kaiser Gardens that The Curse of Sleeping Beauty unfolds, with Thomas (Ethan Peck) having to deal with frequent nightmares involving Briar Rose (India Esley), who has been held captive by evil forces.
Room 104 is a 12-episode series set in the same single room of a US hotel. It chronicles the experiences of the room’s guests, with each episode covering a different theme – from comedy, to drama and even horror.
And in the spirit of Halloween, there’s episode 3, titled The Knockandoo. Here, a tense and anxious woman, Deborah (played by Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris), checks into Room 104 on a stormy night. As she pours herself a drink, she hears a knock on the door and welcomes her guest Samuel (played by Orlando Jones), a cult leader and her meditation coach.
Samuel then embarks on the process of getting Deborah into a state of transcendence, imploring her to open different “windows” within her subconscious and narrate her past experiences to him. What happens next in this episode of Room 104 is both frightening and confusing.
In the tradition of The Twilight Zone, each episode of Sleep Tight pulls you inside a new nightmare as featured social media influencers fight to survive strange and supernatural horrors you can never unsee.
The vicious cannibal Hannibal Lecter is on the run and one of his victims wants to catch him. So they set up a trap, using the FBI agent Clarice Starling as bait in this edgy thriller that will keep you guessing…
And you definitely don’t want to miss this terrifying South African thriller – Siembamba – just watch the trailer to see what you’re in for:
Apart from the ones highlighted above, other titles on Showmax dealing with aspects of the supernatural that are perfect for Halloween include Doctor Who; Freakish; Teen Wolf; Cloak & Dagger and True Blood.