In the 90s, Nollywood churned out a tonne of spiritual thriller movies.
Movies like "Isoken", "The Wedding Party" and "Thirty Days In Atlanta" have topped the box office. More rom-coms are likely to roll out within the year and next year.
Not too long ago, the early 90s to the early 00s, the movies that dominated the scene were spiritual thrillers. These movies (straight to video releases) were a mix of Nigerian Christian beliefs, indigenous myths and diabolical themes. Freakish posters adorned many streets of Lagos as Idumota (home of Nollywood producers) pumped out these spiritual thrillers.
You couldn't call these movies horror flicks per se. A lot of them leaned towards Christianity battling ancient demons or mermaids in the ocean. On this side of the world, there are hardly any movies on vampires, zombies or serial killers lurking in the woods to kill white college students.
Nollywood spiritual thrillers most times had a message- God is the almighty and there is no power greater than his. It would be important to state that this genre of movies came out when Pentecostal Christianity was very dominant.
Classic spiritual thrillers included "Agbara Nla", the TV series produced by Mount Zion Film Ministries. The Christian produced series (shot in Yoruba and English) narrated several tales of how God fought against the forces of darkness on behalf of his children. The series was a smash hit and was one of the early examples of spiritual thrillers.
"Living In Bondage" was another early example of spiritual thrillers. Released in 1992, it tells the story of a man who desperate for money joins an evil cult and sacrifices his wife. The main character Andy starts to feel the repercussion of his evil act. He eventually lost his satanic wealth and lived under a bridge like a bum. He was saved by preachers who told him to confess to God and he will be forgiven.
This story line was common in most spiritual thrillers. A poor down-on-his-luck man seeks wealth and money from Satan only to regret it later on. He ends up asking God to save him and like a cheap parlour trick, a pastor (mostly played to death by Patrick Doyle) would pray and the demons haunting the man would flee.
Another popular story line was that of a female demon who seduces a pastor or a righteous family man. She uses her feminine wiles to seduce the man and break up his family. Predictably, a pastor pops us and exorcises the demon. Movies such as "Nneka the Pretty Serpent", "Karashika", "Sakobi" and others fall under this.
Other popular spiritual thrillers include "Samadora", "Scores to Settle", "Blood Money", "Witches", "Oracle" and others. Of course, many of them had sequels.
The run of spiritual thrillers ended by the early 00s. Nollywood had turned its focus on romantic movies. Scary posters started to make way for the pretty faces of Genevieve Nnaji, Ini Edo, Dakore Akande and others.
Spiritual thrillers drove home the message that Christianity was superior to any other spiritual force. Sadly, an over-reliance on the same plot killed the sub-genre of movies.
Nollywood has moved on from this type of movies but they still have a space in hearts and mind.