TAD 2019: Our Review of ‘8’

TAD 2019: Our Review of ‘8’

Harold Hölscher’s debut feature 8 is creative and original, that much is certain. Everywhere you look you’re going to hear about the film’s inventive use of South African folklore. So let’s get that out of the way first, 8 does borrow a heavy portion of its influence from South African folklore, and this is pleasantly even evident to I, someone with a non-existent knowledge of such folklore. That combined with the competent formal technique, is probably worth the price of admission alone.

But there’s also sort of thematic muddling present in Hölscher’s debut. 8 isn’t a contemporaneous film; it’s a period piece, harkening back to 1977. A family of three moves onto an extremely rural property that has supposedly been in their family for quite some time. Yet, they are white. It is their land only as a result of colonization. When they meet Lazarus (Tshamano Sebe), a former employee with a checkered past who takes a liking to Mary (Keita Luna), this colonizer and the colonized relationship should be brought to the forefront. Particularly so in consideration of what the political climate would’ve been during the late 1970s South Africa.

Except this relationship kind of stays in the background, where it is never commented on. The film is poking around it, particularly in a scene where Lazarus and new homeowner William (Garth Breytenbach) visit a nearby village on the outskirts of the property. But it also falls by the wayside as Hölscher unravels more of the mystery. This is a theme that has been unfortunately present with this year’s rendition of Toronto After Dark; films that may be hinting at something larger, but fall victim to their primary goal of genre trappings.

8 is a well-made film. But it also feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity to say something truly poignant.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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