Saloum is a 2021 Senegalese thriller movie directed by Congolese director Jean Luc Herbulot and produced by Pamela Diop. The movie stars Yann Gael, Mentor Ba, and Roger Sallah in the lead roles, while Evelyne Ily Juhen, Bruno Henry, and Marielle Salmier portray supporting roles. The movie revolves around Bangui’s Hyenas, an elite trio of mercenaries who retrieve a drug dealer and his gold bars in the midst of the 2003 Guinea-Bissau coup.
The movie had its international premiere in the Midnight Madness section of the 2021 Toronto International movie Festival on September 30, 2021. The movie received critical acclaim and was screened worldwide.
Herbulot won the Best Director Award in the Next Wave section at Fantastic Fest and the movie won the Audience Award for Most Popular movie in the Altered States program at the 2021 Vancouver International movie Festival. Now, know about the Saloum movie.
Saloum: Movie Synopsis
During the first two acts of the movie, we get a brief glimpse of a child in rags running from a man in battle gear and then entering the water, holding a chain in one hand and a gun in the other. It becomes clear that the child is actually Chaka as the movie cuts from the capture of the child to Chaka waking up at the holiday camp.
Since Chaka says that he has known Omar for a long time, it clearly implies that he is from this place or that Omar was a prominent figure in his childhood. In addition, Minuit keeps saying that Chaka is hiding something from him and Rafa and that she is preparing for something big. But all these speculations are put on hold as the movie chooses to focus on Omar’s immense generosity.
After a full day of charity work for the villagers named Omara (this is how they pay for staying at Omara’s holiday camp), the trio returns to the dinner table and joins everyone to talk about what they’ve been up to all day. Chaka interrupts by talking about the missing shack behind the cafeteria. He says it was made of irregular sheet metal and looked like a cattle box.
He begins to remember how different Sine-Saloum looked and how he had to run from all this. To be specific, he had to run away from Omar because he had been defiling him for weeks under the guise of providing him with safety and protection. He says he was known as Colonel Remington back then because he carried a Remington pistol and marked the child soldiers who worked for him with the letter “R” on his fist. And that’s when Omar/Remington recognizes him as Chaka.
Chaka famously takes down Omar. Souleymane (Ndiaga Mbow) – one of the guests at the camp, who is a policeman and plans to catch the Bangui Hyenas – tries to call two units he has stationed near the camp. But Chaka reveals that he paid them off with gold bars he had in his bag. So they won’t come to help him.
Rafa realizes that their crash landing in Saloum was part of Chako’s plan. He’s the one who cut the fuel tank. Why didn’t Chaka just clear his teammates and let them into the plan right from the start? Well, according to him, they wouldn’t let him make a detour full of revenge and would rather have the drug lord’s gold and van. And they would be right because now they have no gold to buy a new plane and they have an invisible evil after them.
Saloum Ending, Explained: What Happened At The End?
Here’s how the group is divided. Chaka, Rafa, Salamane, and Souleymane take the ATVs to the village and get weapons, resin, and fuel. Awa and Minuit stay behind with Sephora (Marielle Salmier) and Younce (Cannabasse) and get those boats ready to take them across the river to Ndangane (where they’ll have to walk to the plane).
Souleymane successfully leads them to the fuel. But after getting there, Chaka hears something calling out to him. He takes Souleymane with him to find his origin. They come across a tree with all sorts of ritual materials around it and the spirits circle around it like a magnet. He then proceeds to a shack with an “R” marking Chaka on the wall. We cut back to the camp briefly to see Minuit going to rescue Sephora and Younce, and then we cut back to Chak and Souleyman entering the locked shack.
What they find there is far more terrifying than any of the revelations so far. Frankly, Omar held the children (who are referred to as Chaka) of the village hostage and regularly used them as currency to deal with Sira Bana. Chaka asks Salamane why Omar was doing all this because it doesn’t seem like a simple “deal with the devil” to keep tourism in Saloum going. Salamone says that Omar has found an “entity”.
Chaka asks him what that means, but Souleymane throws dirt in his eyes and runs off with one of the four-wheelers. Chaka, Rafa, and Souleymane begin to return to camp. Souleymane is killed by ghosts. So Chaka and Rafa take the remaining ATV and start the return journey. They notice that the freed children have captured Salaman and exposed him to the spirits of Sir Ban.
Back at camp, Younce gets infected and dies. Awa finds Sephora on the riverbank and dies in her arms. Chaka and Rafa arrive, only to realize that Minuit has entered some kind of trance to contain the spirits. Chaka and Rafa are forced to kill him so that the ghosts will remain attached to him and not follow them as they escape through the river.
Then Chaka, Rafa, and Awa get into the boat and start paddling to Ndangane. But Omar’s undead corpse emerges from the water and tries to drag Raf into the river. He says, “You have come to take his place. Your soul is heavy now. Are you ready? I’ll take you with me.” Chaka tries to shoot the zombified Omar back into the river. Instead, he slips and falls in. Awa and Rafa try to bring him back. But Omar drowns and kills Chaka.
In the prologue, the narrator (Alvina Karamoko) says that revenge is like a river and that our actions are excavations that follow the current; and its depth can only be felt by drowning in it. We see the ghosts of Sir Ban pass through Rafa and Awa without touching them. Saloum’s colors are restored, indicating that Sir Ban’s curse has been lifted. You can also say that it wasn’t a curse, to begin with, but a personification of the toxic and tragic connection between Chaka and Omar.
We have seen in many Japanese horror movies where a person’s negative feelings or grudges become so poisonous that they take on metaphysical forms and start killing or possessing people. Perhaps the curse on Saloum was a result of Omar’s crimes and Chaka’s determination to kill him. And it ended when they both died in the very place that defines Sine-Saloum, the river.
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