Parish House

Parish House/ Parish War

African Nigerian Movie Review
Parish House ~ 2010
Some continuations repackaged as Parish War
Story/ Screenplay & Director – Ikenna Emma Aniekwe
Producer – Charles Offor, Solomon Apete

Starring:
Mercy Johnson – Christine
Van Vicker – Sylvester
Ken Erics Ugo – Bobby
Nkem Owoh – Hezekiah
Ify Onwochei – Cheta
Joyce Kalu – Mum
Amaechi Muonagor – Bishop
Rachel Okonkwo – Ifunanya
Uche Ebere – Monica
Ed Nnasor – Chief Ojike
Oby Somina Okafor – Benita
Chris Collins Oyekachi – Chijioke
Joe Ekenwe – Father Mike

Themes:
Hypocrisy of Religion
Priesthood
Rape

Nollywoodforever.com Rating – 75%

Synopsis:
Sylvester played by Van Vicker is facing opposition from his family after returning to Nigeria after leaving the seminary. He brings a new girlfriend Christine played by Mercy Johnson that he wants to marry to his family and they shun her. His mother in particular is very upset with his. We find out that he was excommunicated but the full extent of what transpired is not revealed until Christine’s cousin Cheta introduces her to her best friend Ifunanya. In Ifunanya’s story we find out exactly why Sylvester was excommunicated and why his mother is so filled with shame.

Hezekiah played by Nkem Owoh is a catechist in the parish and is super protective over his youngest daughter since his eldest daughter Ifunanya was raped by someone trusted in the community.
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SPOILERS:

Priesthood
Although this movie was very comedic in parts thanks to the comic genius of Nkem Owoh and Ikenna Emma Aniekwe’s incredibly witty and well timed lines this movie did have a serious message too. I was glad that this movie shows priests are men too. People should not be elevated to some great untouchable superhuman status simply because of a title that they bear.

Hezekiah the catechist is not fooled by the priest’s robes and does not treat them as divine beings like others in the movie do. Perhaps he overreacts to his second daughter’s interaction with the priest but that it understandable. The movie served to raise awareness of abuse in the church, because so many people in African society are blinded where the words “god” or “church” are bandied about.

Parents should always be vigilant. Because someone wears a robe and walks with a bible does not mean they are inherently a good person and can be trusted. Regardless of clothing and title all people should be judged upon their actions and behaviours not on what they say or what is said about them.

The movie was balanced in that they didn’t just show the negative side of priesthood. To counteract Father Sylvester’s behaviour we are shown the benevolent selfless priest Father Mike that cares about his people and goes out of his way to donate his own money to people in his community who are in need.

The Hypocrisy and Power Of Religion
We see such revere for a man in the community despite his evil deeds. People do not blame the priest for his actions but others for bringing attention to his actions. We see cases like this very often in real life. People are brainwashed or don’t want to question how they had unreserved faith in someone that could do such a thing. Some men in the community approach Hezekiah to try and make him not take the matter involving the rape any further. One tells him,

“The man in question is an anointed man of God… you have to find another way to deal with this issue. I mean arresting a Reverend Father is an abomination and uncalled for.”

Hezekiah throws the man’s belief back at him,

“And what of a Reverend Father impregnating an innocent girl. What is that called? Can you define that for me?”

The man still does not waiver from his belief that a so called man of God is infallible,

“The bible says touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm.”

Arrrgh blind followers irk me so much!

Even Benita who is working with the police to bring Father Sylvester to justice is admonished by her mother for supposedly going against God. This is the power that some priests actually have! People will fight for them to the death even against their own family members. I was glad Benita stood up to her mother and told her with a firm fist to the chest,

“Mama as for the crying you are crying stop crying because I your daughter Benita will make sure they prosecute this guy.”

The woman even gets superstitious and goes as far as to say that to prosecute the Priest will be bad karma and mentions a previous incident that happened in the past to account for why her daughter is unmarried. It can be seen from these examples why many victims of abuse especiallywhere the abuser is well respected would keep the abuse to themselves rather than reporting it.

Classic Nollywood Moment
One thing that I never get tired of when watching Nigerian movies is when someone who has been aggrieved retreats into the house to get a cutlass to threaten someone, simply telling them to, “wait just there.” You always know what is going to happen next when someone is calmly told “wait there” but I still love it every time. There is one such scene in this movie. Sylvester’s mother and brother come to visit Hezekiah to beg for forgiveness and he runs into the house to get the cutlass to deal with them.

Nkem Owoh’s Comedic Lines
Nkem had too many funny lines in this movie. The hilarity was just rolling off his tongue. Let me just let you into a couple of the lines,

“He told me he’s a modern day priest. I never knew he is a modern dog – Alsatian.”

“I do not want anybody who has a hot manhood under his thighs to come near my compound again.”

“What so you want with this girl? You will become my roy, your roy or even Fela?”

I didn’t even get the “roy” bit but the part where he compared the priest who was sniffing around his second daughter to Fela just had me *dead*

A priest tells Hezekiah that Father Sylvester has been punished while trying to encourage forgiveness. Hezekiah exclaims,

“Without castration there is no punishment.”

Rape
Hezekiah says, “He raped my daughter and put her in the family way.” We also see the occasion where Ifunanya was sent to cook for Father Sylvester and see him forcing himself on her. It is clear she was RAPED. I was incensed that Father Mike (was that his name?) told her that she had to take responsibility for her part. WHAT PART? Ifunanya does’t even protest. It is like she resigns herself to the fact that to be raped was in part her fault.

Even more confusing was that Hezekiah was always sticking up for his daughter and attacking the priest for raping his daughter yet he too even says at one point, “Ifunanya it is not as if I am blaming you so much but am blaming you.” Hold up was it not Hezekiah that sent his daughter to go and cook for the priest. He should have blamed himself. That part was quite annoying because he had seemed so FOR his daughter and then to say that just really made me feel sad about the whole situation. It also did not fit in with his previous stanch support of his daughter to say that.

Cast Performances
Rachel Okonkwo
was excellent as Ifunanya. She is a very good actress and interpreted the role well. I’d love to see her again in a movie where she is a central character again rather than relegated to an extra role as she usually is. The scene where she told the story of her pregnancy to Christine was wholly convincing. I felt her tears and pain. This is the type of up and coming actresses that we should be celebrating and supporting.

Nkem Owoh as Hezekiah the catechist was excellent casting. He really carried the movie and without him it would have been nowhere near as good. It has been a while since I saw him in shine in a movie like this.

Mercy Johnson was a bad ass, as usual. No more really needs to be said.

Nollywood Forever Says WHAT?
I tire for Sylvester ooo! Your mother has just got over the shock that you have been thrown out of the seminary and then you want to bring badass Mercy Johnson with curves for days bursting out of her barely there frocks home to her as a possible wife. Are you crazy? All I can say is OLODO.

How does one parish get all the hot priests? Like really? Hot and young? CHEI!
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Conclusion:
I would definitely recommend this movie
as it was really enjoyable to watch. It had a serious message about the pitfalls of blind faith but it was not all heavy because there was a lot of comedy included. Ikenna Emma Aniekwe did a great job to have written and directed the movie. My only gripe would be the length of the movie, I felt it could have been cut down without losing any of the message and the fact that Hezekiah did not remain steadfast in his support of his daughter. Overall THUMBS UP. GRAB YA COPY NOW!

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