Quite a few titles screened at 2021 festivals have been released this year upon receiving official distribution deals. Some of these movies have been wonderful, and others not so much, but that’s typical of the festival game — not every entry is going to be a winner.
However, one of the more unexpectedly popular titles to have premiered on last year’s festival circuit is the Senegalese action-horror film “Saloum.” While likely not meant for a general audience, it made a splash for critics and festival-goers that love genre-bending cinema, and “Saloum” is just that and more. Directed by Jean Luc Herbulot, the film could help mark a brand-new era of prominent genre films hailing from the continent, with other recent examples being the Afro-futurist musical “Neptune Frost” and the South African horror “Good Madam.”
Now, the film is finally about to premiere stateside on perhaps the perfect streaming service for it. Here’s what you need to know before “Saloum” is unleashed.
Think African mythology with Tarantino sensibilities
If there’s anything that should get you hyped for this movie, it’s the plot. “Saloum” centers around the Bangui Hyenas, a small group of mercenaries who just finished their most dangerous heist in the middle of a coup. Hiding out in a holiday camp in the Senegalese region of Sine-Saloum, the group attempts to hide in plain sight amid other troubled and secretive attendants. However, things get dangerous when an evil spirit begins terrorizing them, prompting the Hyenas and the rest of the camp to fight back in badass fashion. Yann Gael, Evelyne Ily Juhen, Roger Sallah, Bruno Henry, Marielle Salmier, Renaud Farah, and Mentor Ba help bring this terrifying story to life.
The story of “Saloum” is deeply entrenched in both African history and folklore. The 2003 coup d’état that took place in the region of Guinea-Bissau kicks the film off and continues to have a distinct albeit unspoken presence throughout. The creature at the center of this madcap adventure also is deeply symbolic of local myths surrounding comeuppance and trickery while also looking genuinely menacing. If you thought that no CGI creatures can look good in broad daylight, think again.
Where Saloum has screened, and when you can watch it
Depending on what types of film circles you run in, you might have heard some people get excited about “Saloum” over the past year. This is because the film has been a bit of a critical darling at film festivals. It held its world premiere during the Midnight Madness block at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, where it first gained attention as a must-see for genre movie enthusiasts. It then screened at Fantastic Fest, the Red Sea International Film Festival, the Sydney Film Festival, and the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Now, you’ll soon be able to watch the film at home. “Saloum” will debut in New York City and Los Angeles on September 2, 2022 before heading to Shudder on September 8, 2022. After the film premieres on the horror-focused streamer, it will be rolled out to theaters nationwide. Needless to say, this is a pretty big deal, and we can’t wait to see how the film is received when watched by a larger audience.