Omen movie review & film summary (2024)

The film’s title rings as a warning through every action taken, every crossed path, every “accident” encountered. When Koffi lands in Congo, he is unable to reach his sister, who is supposed to pick him up from the airport. Left to their own devices, when they obtain a car, they travel to the mines to look for his father and deliver a dowry, and he is nowhere to be found. And after arriving at the family party, Koffi holds his sister’s infant son, and while doing so, gets a nosebleed that spatters the child’s cheek in blood. The boy is ripped from his arms as the women insist that he has cursed the baby, and he is dragged to a hut where a shaman performs rites to rid and redeem, dunking his head in water and nailing a wooden mask around his head. The question of omens is not only posed to Koffi, but to us as well. Are these hysterics wrong or warranted? 

While Koffi is the film’s core character, his sister Tshala (Eliane Umuhire), mother Mujila (Yves-Marina Gnahoua), and a young boy named Paco (Marcel Otete Kabeya), whose story runs alongside rather than intertwined with Koffi’s, are given their own chapters in the story. The formula of “Omen” sees its cast approaching their utterly human fates under the influences of omens, shamans, and a surrealist spirit realm. Tshala, casually rebuked by her family for moving to South Africa “to live with the white Africans” hides her polyamorous relationship for fears of greater rejection. Mujila battles motherly instinct against spiritual belief, struggling to find ground firm enough for confident dwelling. And Paco, living in a repurposed bus with his crew of tutu-clad wrestling gangsters, mourns the loss of his sister while also navigating the increasingly violent threats of a rival gang. 

Each of these protagonists finds themselves on the defensive end of a fight to pilot their own existences, and the world in which they search for support feels on constant brink of collapse. “Omen” excellently captures the feelings of both cultural and generational alienation. In script and performance, there is never a moment of certainty. When the hard-boiled problems of shunned family, complex relationships, and mortality are met with the elusive treatments of cultural spiritualism, it’s apparent in Koffi’s fear, Tshala’s dejection, Mujila’s mournful eyes, and Paco’s indignant anger that everyone is clawing for control in a world that permits none.