8: A SOUTH AFRICAN HORROR STORY is exactly what the title says it is. It features a different yet familiar plot that works really well in this setting. Screened at Fantasia 2019. Read more in our 8: A South African Horror Story review >

8: A South African Horror Story is a new horror movie set in South Africa. The title is really just “8” but this is impossible to search for in IMDb or anywhere else online, so we’re going to refer to it by this fully explanatory title.

The plot itself is one that feels quite familiar, but at the same time 8: A South African Horror Story is completely its own.

The South African movie is screening at the film festival Fantasia 2019 in Montreal, Canada. Read more in our 8: A South African Horror Story review below.

A collector of souls

At the heart of 8: A South African Horror Story, we have a black man who finds himself in a terrible predicament. In order to save the life of his daughter, he has to keep collecting souls. Basically, he discovered too late that he was making a deal with something very sinister, when he cried out for help.

This part of the story is told in a simple flashback and it works really well. Actually, the entire plot of 8: A South African Horror Story is both simple and efficient. Nothing is added that isn’t necesary and it suits the story very well.

The actual plot takes place in rural South Africa in 1977, so while it’s in the midst of apartheid, this isn’t touched upon. Of course, we are still dealing with a white family and a black man working for this family. However, this family seems to be very respectful of the local black residents in a nearby village.

Overall, race isn’t really touched upon. Instead, the focus is on a curse that doesn’t care about race or background at all.

8: A South African Horror Story – Review

South African horror

We don’t watch that many movies from South Africa, but the ones we have seen have been both interesting and well-made. 8: A South African Horror Story is no exception and the horror plot works really well.

As the story is unfolding, we are dealing with local residents who believe wholeheartedly in demons. And, of course, they are right in believing in this particular demon. Not only have they seen what happens but they fear what will happen next.

My only real concern is the fact that the young white girl at the heart of the story is a bit stiff in her acting. The main character in terms of the horror elements, however, is Lazarus. And Lazurus is portrayed perfectly by Tshamano Sebe. If you were a fan of the pirate series Black Sails, then you may have seen Tshamano Sebe as Mr. Smalls on that show.

Another familiar face might be Inge Beckmann, who plays the girl’s aunt Sarah. Inge Beckmann is someone you might recognize from bit parts in Escape Room or The Dark Tower.

8: A South African Horror Story screening at film festivals

Right now, 8: A South African Horror Story is still screening af various film festivals including Fantasia 2019. 

Harold Holscher is the writer and director of this little indie movie. This is his first feature film after having made a few short films. Also, he did direct a TV movie back in 2014. 

Overall, the production quality is very impressive and the story definitely held my interest. The only real issue I had (other than the usual “Listen to the woman, you idiots!”) was that the runtime felt a bit long. 8: A South African Horror Story is only around an hour and a half though, so it’s not too much.

Also, that little “Listen to the woman”-feeling does seem to be very intentional. Aunt Sarah (Inge Beckmann) feels something is off. All viewers will know she’s right but she’s treated as just another difficult woman. If this wasn’t obviously the intention of the filmmaker, I would be annoyed. Instead, it’s just a cool and important element now.

8: A South African Horror Story just screened at Fantasia 2019.

Details

Director: Harold Holscher
Writer: Harold Holscher
Stars: Inge Beckmann, Garth Breytenbach, Tshamano Sebe

Plot

William Zeil is returning to his old family farm that he inherited from his father after suffering a crippling bankruptcy. With him he brings his wife Sarah and their young adopted daughter, Mary, hoping for a fresh start. They soon meet Lazarus, an old farmhand who looked after William’s father, who takes an immediate, almost paternal liking to Mary. It becomes evident that the local tribal leader has a considerable problem with Lazarus, as do many in the community. On his end, Lazarus has no shortage of his own problems — his wife having died in childbirth, his daughter later perishing in a fire, he is tormented in this terrible place of wounding memories and unrestful souls. Lonely… but, as the Zeil family will soon discover, never alone.

Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina
Review Date
Reviewed Item
8: A South African Horror Story (2019)
Rating
31star1star1stargraygray