Saloum: Review

In 2003 there was a coup d’état in Guinea Bissau which was thankfully peaceful and did not lead to any loss of life. However, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t people looking out for their own interests. Chaka (Yann Gael) leads a group of men who are indeed looking for something and once they find it, they flee and bury it at the nearest opportunity. This eventually leads them to a hidden region on the Saloum river of Senegal.

They’re welcomed in kindly by Omar (Bruno Henry) and settle down, talking about the state of the country and how they hope that things will improve. However, soon somebody is attacked by something otherworldly, and he starts speaking about the myths that have run through Senegal for centuries.

Realising their situation and what they must do to survive, they devise a plan to get out of there with their lives while they’re relentlessly being hunted.

Saloum is a horror exclusive to Shudder directed by Jean Luc Herbulot and co-written by Pamela Diop. Set in a time and place that perhaps most of the world wouldn’t know much about, Herbulot’s setting seems perfectly isolated for the events in Saloum to unfold.

Presented like a western, the supposed criminals have hidden out and are waiting for their time to move so they can escape to better pastures.

However, the melding of the macho gun totting aesthetic with the spirits of folklore tales seems to work rather well. The film does seem to take a while to get going and an international audience may not be too familiar with the details of Senegal’s history. Although, once the horror aspects finally kick in then the build-up will have been worth the wait.

As the lead and the leader of the group, Gael gives a great performance and manages to pull things together nicely. The idea of a creature that appears as a swarm is original as well and surely relies on Senegal folktales, thankfully with a good enough CGI interpretation that works when the attacks begin. Something of a slow burn for Shudder, Saloum takes its time but delivers on its promise.

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Joel found out that he had a talent for absorbing film trivia at a young age. Ever since then he has probably watched more films than the average human being, not because he has no filter but because it’s one of the most enjoyable, fulfilling and enriching experiences that a person can have. He also has a weak spot for bad sci-fi/horror movies because he is a huge geek and doesn’t care who knows it.


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