(director/writer: Nikyatu Jusu; cinematographer: Rina Yang; editor: Robert Mead; music: Bartek Gliniak/ Tanerélle; cast: Anna Diop (Aisha), Michelle Monaghan (Amy), Sinqua Walls (Malik), Morgan Spector (Adam), Rose Decker (Rose), Leslie Uggams (Kathleen), Zephani Idoko (Sallay), Jahleel Kamara (Lamine), Ebbie Bassey (Aunt Sarah); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Nikkia Moulterie, Daniela Taplin Lundberg: Stay Gold Features; 2022-in English and Wolof)
“Resolute and haunting arthouse horror pic.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Sierra Leonean-American filmmaker Nikyatu Jusu, in her feature film debut ,is the writer and director of this resolute and haunting arthouse horror pic that sharply tells a drama about an immigrant being exploited at work and going through a mystical haunting experience. The psychological drama invests in African folklore, nightmarish visions and in dark myths, and has some fine visuals by DP Rina Yang.
Aisha (Anna Diop) is an undocumented immigrant from Senegal who is living with a relative in NYC. Her sister Sarah (Ebbe Bassey) is back home caring for her young son (Jahleel Kamara). The three maintain regular contact through video calls. Aisha’s plan is to bring her son to NYC when she settles in on her new job.
Aisha works as a nanny for a Manhattan-dwelling white couple, Amy (Michelle Monaghan) and Adam (Morgan Spector). Amy’s folks are rich.
Even though Aisha lives on her own, she’s given a spare room if she must stay overnight taking care of the couple’s young daughter Rose (Rose Decker). Adam is a photographer on an assignment who will be soon coming home.
Aisha becomes friends with the charming Black lobby attendant Malik.
Meanwhile the good initial relationship with Amy changes when Aisha’s hours become longer without her approval and her employer keeps forgetting to pay her.
Before you can say weird, things turn weird. A shower is on even when no one turned it on. She has nightmares that her bedroom is being flooded. What follows is visions of mermaids, spiders and snakes. Malik’s grandmother Kathleen (Leslie Uggams) warns her to be wary that these are signs warning her she’s in danger.
Diop shows she can handle the range of emotions she must go through to be convincing and is gentle as the haunted sympathetic heroine, who because of economic circumstances must abandon her own child to care for a stranger’s child.
Played at Sundance.
REVIEWED ON 2/16/2022 GRADE: B