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SALOUM (2021, SEN) – 7/10

Congolese filmmaker Jean Luc Herbulot shot a modern African crime film that, following the example of “From Dusk to Dawn”, will unexpectedly turn into a horror. Saloum is a river that creates a delta at its mouth in Senegal and flows into the Atlantic Ocean, and in that remote area three mercenaries called the Hyenas of Bangui will find refuge. They found themselves in Guinea-Bissau in 2003, when the civil war was raging there, and after kidnapping a Mexican dealer and stealing gold bars, they headed for Senegal. However, their plane will break down and they will have to make an emergency landing in Saloum.

There, he will settle in a resting place owned by Omar, a guy who is irresistibly familiar to Hijen’s boss Chaka, but he can’t place him anywhere in the beginning, although by the end, he will clearly remember who he really is. There are also other guests in the rest area, such as the mute girl Awa, who knows who the three newcomers are and threatens to betray them already at the first dinner together. Surprisingly, all members of the Hyenas know sign language, which they learned since they were all forced to work in diamond mines at some stage of their lives, and by the end we will understand that the Hyenas did not actually end up in Saloum by chance, but Chaka has some unsettled accounts there from of the past.

But before he can even begin to solve them, they will all realize that something really strange is happening there and that some supernatural forces from the local mythology have awakened. And “Saloum” was a fun and dynamic horror-thriller-crime shot in a modern way with an almost western aesthetic spiced with African mythology. It is a film that is full of symbolism and talks about the problems of that part of Africa, exploitation, civil wars, crime, guerilla squads and child warriors, all the horrors that happen in that part of the world. However, a big plus for Herbulot is that this subversion was not done by force, forced, but the whole story was placed in a good and interesting political context, but without preaching, brainstorming and whining, and stylistically he somewhat emulated Guy Ritchie and his films like “Snatcha” so “Saloum” is an extremely dynamic, exciting and entertaining film.