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“Kill Boro” Review: Courage Obayuwana’s Debut Feature Leaves A Lasting Impression

“Kill Boro” Review: Courage Obayuwana’s Debut Feature Leaves A Lasting Impression

Kill Boro review | Courage Obayuwana| Afrocritik

Kill Boro is a compelling and emotionally charged film that offers a fresh perspective on a well-trodden theme. 

By Joseph Jonathan 

In November 2020, while the world grappled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, veteran Nigerian filmmakers Steve Gukas and Dotun Olakunri, announced the launch of the First Features Project. This initiative set out to identify  12 first-time directors, and provide training, mentorship, funding, and distribution support for their debut feature films. The project has already seen the release of Cake (2022) by Prosper Edesiri, Love and Life (2023) by Ruben Reng, and It Blooms in June (2024) by Akorede Azeez. Kill Boro, directed by Courage Obayuwana, is the fourth film from the project. 

Written by Priye Diri, this film follows Elijah (Kosisochukwu Ogboruche), a young boy tormented by the relentless abuse inflicted by his father, Boro (Philip Asaya). Boro’s violence extends to his wife, Boma (Ini-Dima Okojie), creating a household filled with fear and pain. As the abuse escalates, Elijah’s anger and desperation reach a boiling point, leading him to contemplate an unthinkable solution: killing his father. This gripping tale explores the consequences of choices, the power of redemption, the complexity of familial bonds, as well as the complexities of domestic violence and the psychological toll it takes on a family, particularly on a child pushed to the edge. As Nollywood is not bereft of films bordering on domestic abuse/violence (To Freedom, The One For Sarah, Sista and Strained), Kill Boro offers a fresh spin by focusing on how it affects children in such abusive environments, and their response to it. 

Elijah’s contentious relationship with his father reminded me of the 2018 Lebanese drama film, Capernaum, directed by Nadine Labaki, which follows the story of Zain, a 12-year-old boy living in the slums of Beirut. Zain, who has been neglected and mistreated by his parents, decides to sue them for giving him life in such dire circumstances. Zain and Elijah share several striking similarities; both boys grow up in abusive households, and their deep-seated anger and desperation shape their actions.  Both films highlight the boys’ battles against the injustices they face, with Zain’s lawsuit serving as a cry for justice and recognition, and Elijah’s extreme measures reflecting his fight against his father’s oppressive control. They both impress upon the audience how harsh environments can force children to confront adult issues and moral dilemmas, prematurely stripping away their innocence. 

However, despite these similarities, Kill Boro is unique in itself, with a story and environment that is relatable to its core audience — Nigerians. For instance, the film is set in the fictional town of Azuama which reflects the realities of the oil-rich Niger Delta region just as the 2023 Moses Inwang-directed film, Blood Vessel. And just like in Blood Vessel, characters like Boro and Boma are in a struggle against the limitations of their environment in order to get a better life for themselves and family. Also, almost every Nigerian can relate to the Pidgin English language interspersed in the dialogue throughout the film, even though the variant used is only popular in the South-South region. 

“Kill Boro” Review: Courage Obayuwana’s Debut Feature Leaves A Lasting Impression | Afrocritik
A still from Kill Boro

As far as storytelling goes in Nollywood, many features falter in the third act, which may be either rushed, don’t thread together plot details or don’t offer any closure. But Kill Boro surprisingly has its best moments here — it is perhaps the best thing about the film, aside from the acting. One expects a great third act to have emotional resonance, tie up loose ends, showcase character growth, and reinforce the story’s themes and message. It should also be well-paced, with unexpected yet logical twists, and feel complete and authentic, leaving a lasting impact on the audience. Kill Boro ticks virtually all the boxes and leaves a feeling of satisfaction long even as the credits roll. This is because the conflict comes to a head at a measured pace, and the characters have come full circle in their development. As the film reaches its climax, Boro and Elijah’s growth is visible as both have moments of epiphany which results in a reconciliation. 

The storytelling is made even better by the nuanced acting performances of the film’s cast. Asaya gives a good account of himself as Boro, giving life to a troubled character battling his demons while on a quest for redemption. Okojie is a delight to watch as Boma. She expresses the emotions of a mother torn between love, family conflict, domestic abuse, and sacrifice. In recent times, child actors have become a phenomenon in Nollywood and Kill Boro continues the trend by introducing us to the acting talents of Ogboruche as Elijah and Beloved Osagie who plays Orabere (Elijah’s best friend). Ogboruche in particular is unfazed by the demands of being in a lead role. He exudes the confidence of a pro and puts in a weighted performance. 

KB still jpg
Ini Dima-Okojie as Boma in Kill Boro

Cinematography is another area where this film truly shines, with picturesque shots and meticulously crafted frames in multiple scenes. The visual storytelling is compelling, using light, colour, and composition to enhance the narrative and evoke emotions from the audience. Each frame is thoughtfully constructed, capturing the essence of the characters’ experiences and their environment. The use of camera angles and movement also adds depth to the storytelling, making the visuals an integral part of the film’s emotional impact. 

While the cinematography is commendable and elevates the overall aesthetic quality of the film, the audio quality leaves much to be desired. The sound design falters in several parts, with certain scenes suffering from audio inconsistencies. In such scenes, the dialogue sounds detached, almost as if it were overlaid in post-production without proper blending into the scene. This gives parts of the film an unnatural feel, akin to voice-over recordings rather than live, authentic interactions. Despite the aesthetic quality, these audio issues can be jarring, and distracting. 

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Kill Boro is a compelling and emotionally charged film that offers a fresh perspective on a well-trodden theme. It is an impressive debut by Obayuwana as director. Its strength lies in its raw and unflinching portrayal of domestic violence and its impact on children which leaves a lasting impression on its audience. 

Rating: 2.8/5 

(Kill Boro is currently showing on Prime Video)

Joseph Jonathan is a historian who seeks to understand how film shapes our cultural identity as a people. He believes that history is more about the future than the past. When he’s not writing about film, you can catch him listening to music or discussing politics. He tweets @JosieJp3.

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