Movie review: Is Blood Sisters just another Nollywood hype?

Omoleye Omoruyi
If you can look past some of the aesthetic issues, ‘Blood Sisters’ has a lot to offer
Blood Sisters
Blood Sisters – a Netflix original

When the movie ‘Blood Sisters’ appeared on Netflix, many Nigerians were indifferent because they had seen a lot of similar titles in the past, even at cinemas and had left disappointed.

The storyline of ‘Blood Sisters‘ is simple, at least to many.

Two friends, Sarah and Kemi, become fugitives after one of them killed the other’s intending groom, Kola Ademola, at the wedding introduction. They would have to keep running to avoid police investigators and the family bodyguard of the murdered person.

As almost everyone tried to find Kola‘s killer, many secrets about Kola, his siblings, his mother and his family feud became public knowledge. It is a limited series of four episodes, each running for an average of 57 minutes, and was created by Temidayo Makanjuola.

The movie bears a cast of popular actors. These include: Nancy Isime (as Kemi); Ini-Dima Okojie (as Sarah Duru); Deyemi Okanlawon (as Kola Ademola); Kate Henshaw (as Uduak Ademola); Uche Jombo (as Uchenna); Patrick Doyle (as Sarah’s dad); Joke Silva as (Kemi’s Grandmother); Keppy Ekpenyong-Bassey (as Ifeanyi, Kola’s biological father); Wale Ojo (as (inspector Joe Obasanjo); Kehinde Balogun (as Olayinka); Gabriel Afolayan (as Femi Ademola);

The others are Toke Makinwa (as Abasiama); Ibrahim Suleiman (as Kenny); Daniel Etim Effiong (as Akin); Ramsey Noah (as Uncle B); Genoveva Umeh (as Timileyin Ademola); Wofai Fada (as Princess); Toyin Abraham (as the Nice Woman); Maurice Sam (as Blade); Segun Arinze (as Superintendent Tijano Bell).

It is rated 16+ and was released on May 5, 2022.

Breaking records…

‘Blood Sisters’ is Netflix’s first Nigerian original series, and the most viewed Nigerian series on Netflix, beating Kemi Adetiba’s ‘King of Boys’ to that record.

Earlier, Mo Abudu, who had collaborated with Netflix to produce the series wrote on Instagram:

“What a glorious day we had yesterday with the release of our trailer for Blood Sisters – Netflix’s First Original Nigerian Series. Thank you all so much for the amazing feedback and interaction on our trailer launch💃🏽💃🏽. I would like to thank Variety Magazine for sharing our story around the world. It’s so important that the stories we tell now resonate around the world. Black stories matter💪🏿 Black stories count 💪🏿”

From May 2 to May 8, it stayed in the number 9 spot on the global viewership chart. According to Netflix, ‘Blood Sisters’ attracted about 11,070,000 hours of viewing. On May 10, one of the stars in the series, Kate Henshaw announced that ‘Blood Sisters’ hit the top 10 rated in over 30 countries.

For the week ending May 8, however, it was not on the top ten list. This is typical of the Nigerian way of moving on from the ‘noise’ in no time.

But, is there a motivation for this?

Is ‘Blood Sisters’ just another hype?

‘Blood Sisters’ set the agenda on social media when it was released, and viewers quickly responded – #BloodSisters, #BloodSistersNetflix, and some of the characters were the topic of conversations. On Google search trends, ‘Blood Sisters’ Netflix was listed as number three, of course owing to the premiere.

Blood Sisters on Google Trends
Blood Sisters on Google Trends

In my opinion, many of the so-called ‘cinema-worthy’, ‘Oscar-rated’ Nollywood movies should not have made it to the cinemas. Maybe producers should have put them out for product testing before “letting the dogs out”.

Let’s examine if ‘Blood Sisters’ is one of them.

The series started the traditional Nigerian film way – one of the Ademolas (Femi Ademola) was in a ghetto with another man, known at the point to be an assassin – more like a weakling, showing viewers that predictability will not leave the conversation for this story.

The next scene shows another Ademola, Kola, who is later known to be a strong-willed character who has achieved a certain kind of power that encourages him to thingify women and abuse them as he wills – telling his own stories of abuse through artworks. But, we don’t know that at the beginning. The latter findings of Kola Ademola’s character is a twist and you cannot ignore that.

I dare say that predictability is somewhat an indispensable part of Nollywood, and flashbacks are what producers usually use to cover up a crucial part of storytelling – suspense.

Blood Sisters - A Netflix Original

We also see this predictable storytelling in ‘King of Boys’, which starts with a scene where Sola Sobowale, Eniola Salami, prays to the high heavens to allow her achieve her goal of becoming the king of boys. That already says she will become an indispensable figure in the game she was playing.

As a drama form, you will not expect much for a suspenseful beginning, but, the relationship between the main characters burying someone, the Ademola son with the assassin at the beginning already tells what may happen next.

What the story did not tell is the exaggerated number of killings that happened till the end of the story.

On social media, there were arguments about the killings. Others argue for the unpolished storytelling that included Uduak Ademola wearing heavy costumes, even in her bedroom, and an assassin that looked predictable at the wedding party.

Some others argue that the story beats reality, especially with the kind of BFF relationship the main characters portray that allows Kemi to continue killing till she cannot anymore.

Thoughts on plot and imagery

The story is straightforward and in many ways falls into the same trappings other shows of its kind tend to slip up with. Again, it is melodramatic, but, with an open mind, there’s definitely enough to like with this.

When it comes to the technical aspects, ‘Blood Sisters’ does slip up a bit. The camera work is definitely in a mix. Would you see the famous Ikoyi Bridge? Watch it first.

But, the camera swings wildly, zooms in and out abruptly and generally feels unsettling during some of the more tense moments. Reminds you of the many faces that are zoomed in when characters in Indian movies are about to react to something.

If you can look past some of the aesthetic issues, ‘Blood Sisters’ has a lot to offer, especially if you considered that the characters all tried to give in their best.

Each episode title already tells us they have a specific purpose, and there’s a nice little twist at the end of season 1. The story was told well, for the most part, introducing all of the characters and sending them on this rollercoaster ride across the four-hour-long chapters.

What was realistic

Top of this list is an assassin who was killed easier than a catfish would be killed. Played by Maurice Sam, Blade is the direct opposite of the Hollywood character, and you would have thought that his ‘ghen ghen’ preparation was enough to complete the job.

Blood Sisters - a Netflix original

Talk about an assassin that wore a green shirt to a job, and was beaten by another man in agbada whose cap did not remove all through the fight. Reminds us of Steven Seagal, but a weaker version.

Besides that, some of the murders may just be playing to the concept of surrealism. First, how did Kemi know how to shoot the gun? Are her survival skills so accurate that she was ready to continue killing until she sensed that it was over?

Also, do friendships reach that point of no return? Also, possibly. Social media says yes.

On other realities in the film:

Skip or stream?

I won’t say but here is what you must know.

From the beginning, you only know of the frosty relationship between the Ademola brothers and their mother, as against the warm kind between the non-biological blood sisters share, but we do not know the details.

And the retrograde idea that Sarah‘s parents only care about the money when they now know Kola‘s gross misdemeanour is far-fetched, especially if knowing that she is the only child and this is the re-establishment of the enlightenment era.

There’s a disagreement with this opinion:

Away from that, ‘Blood Sisters’ is a bit melodramatic, but it has the potential to be an interesting thriller that re-opens conversations on gender roles vs tradition in Nigeria, police corruption, personal values, parent-child relationship, etc.

‘Blood Sisters’ is a fascinating series in many ways and feels like a natural extension of what ‘Blood and Water’ offered last year.

Should we compare?

Nah. It is Nollywood. The storytelling style is different.

Nollywood movies have the same characteristics: heavy fashion in unnecessary instances, super hyperboles, weak characters against expectations, flawed suspense styles, and arguably interesting twists.

But, ‘Blood Sisters’ is a sign that the storytelling in Nigeria has become significantly better. It did not have the kind of diabolism Nigerian films are known for, and that’s a change. This is also a reminder that, despite all the negative press, Netflix has secured for itself a lot of interesting projects from across the world.

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