The Weekend [Tribeca Festival Review]

One of the sharpest horror movies I’ve seen lately comes from Nigeria. The Weekend had its world premiere in the Midnight section of the 2024 Tribeca Festival and is the kind of shocker that will appeal to fans of dark, twisted tales everywhere. One particularly cool thing about the film is that you don’t know exactly what kind of horror you’re dealing with for a while, a fact that adds to the overall tension.

Nikiya (Uzoamaka Aniunoh) has always yearned to be part of a family. That’s why she wants to meet the clan of her boyfriend Luc (Bucci Franklin) now that they’re engaged. He steadfastly refuses to introduce them, insisting they’re the kind of people she doesn’t want to be around. Nikiya does, though, and Luc reluctantly agrees to a short weekend excursion to the village where his parents’ large, decaying compound is. Luc’s sister and her abusive boyfriend come, as well. For a time, Nikiya believes they’re all lovely people. Then she becomes suspicious of things like the mysterious box on the mantle that she’s warned never to touch.

What occurs next must obviously remain undisclosed. Once The Weekend finally reveals what the family is up to, stuff gets crazy – and gory – fast. The build-up is a little more slowly paced than necessary, but once the revelation hits, director Daniel Oriahi puts the pedal to the floor. Although this isn’t the first horror flick to deal with the central subject, the cultural perspective brings a fresh quality to it. As befitting the idea of family, lineage is a major theme here. Luc has managed to escape the lifestyle of his kin. Or has he?

Aniunoh and Franklin give dynamic performances that sell the terror inherent in the material. She conveys Nikiya’s revulsion at learning the family’s secret, while he brings out Luc’s panic upon realizing that he’s dragged his fiancée into the very thing he wanted to keep her out of. Many horror movies are solely about the awful things that happen. This one is about that, too, but just as much about how the Nikya/Luc relationship changes as a result. Keeping a human quality at the center allows the gruesome finale to have a hard-hitting payoff.

The Weekend has the guts to go to disturbing places. Oriahi pulls no punches on that count, and he refuses to compromise on the ending. Consequently, the film is admirably creepy and difficult to shake off.

The Weekend

The Weekend is unrated, but contains strong language and graphic violence. The running time is 1 hour and 57 minutes.

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan