8 – South Africa, 2019 – reviews

‘Guilt becomes a heavy burden to bear’

8 is a 2019 South African horror feature film written and directed by Harold Holscher. The Man Makes a Picture Productions movie stars Inge Beckmann, Garth Breytenbach, Tshamano Sebe and Chris April.


Bankruptcy forces William Ziel (Garth Breytenbach) to return to the farm he inherited from his estranged father in an attempt to start a new life with his young, fragmented family.

Lazarus (Tshamano Sebe), the farmhand who took care of William’s father Frederick in his lonely final hours, reappears soon after William, Sarah and adopted daughter Mary (Keita Luna), arrive at Hemelop- Aarde.

A supposed chance meeting between Mary and Lazarus develops into a bond between two kindred spirits. But Lazarus, the old soul who struggles to find peace in this place of sad memories, carries a dark secret that constantly haunts him: the demon child with its insatiable appetite for human souls that weighs so heavily in the sack he carries everywhere with him.

Despite Sarah’s misgivings, this unfathomable character wins over William and Mary. At first, Sarah’s apprehension seems unfounded but, judging by the reaction of the local community to his return from wanderings afar, she may be right and the Ziels’ newfound domesticity could be at risk…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The cinematography is captivating. David Pienaar conjures up the romanticism and danger of rural African life through a filter of hazy sunshine and creeping shadows […] 8 is an atmospheric and enthralling mix of traditional terror and modern genre cinema.” Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia

“It blends African culture with western horror ideas in a way that worked well, and Lazarus made for a captivating villain to the full story. The sense of malice and grief gave an oddly sympathetic tone to the horrors being portrayed, and while not a perfect film, 8 is a stunning work and a great addition to the horror pantheon.” Brendan Frye, CG magazine

“Overall, the production quality is very impressive and the story definitely held my interest. The only real issue I had (other than the usual “Listen to the woman, you idiots!”) was that the runtime felt a bit long.” Karina Adelgaard, Heaven of Horror

“The film’s publicity cites Richard Stanley’s Dust Devil as a comparison. I’d add Basket Case as well, with its interplay between Lazurus and the bag’s occupant. 8: A South African Horror doesn’t have the gore of the latter film, but it does have some excellent makeup work for the demon child.” Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony


8 had its world premiere at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival in Canada in July.

Cast and characters:

  • Inge Beckmann … Sarah
  • Garth Breytenbach … William
  • Tshamano Sebe … Lazarus
  • Chris April … Obara
  • Keita Luna … Mary

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