Fantasia 2018: Nosipho Dumisa Makes NUMBER 37 Your Favorite Number

Starring Irshaad Ally, Ephram Gordon, Amrain Ismail-Essop

Written by Nosipho Dumisa, Daryne Joshua

Directed by Nosipho Dumisa

Number 37, directed by Nosipho Dumisa, premiered at Fantasia International Film Festival in July 28th, 2018.

Although I typically review horror, I feared what would happen in this drama thriller more than I did in most horrors released this year. Good thrillers are hard to find–and even harder to create. But from Zenn van Zyl’s camera work at the beginning to a finale rivaling Wai-Keung Lau’s Infernal Affairs, Number 37 shines as a diamond in the rough. Written/directed by Nosipho Dumisa, Number 37 offers high tension with characters you run from—and others you stand for.

In Cape Town, South Africa, trouble never ends for Randal Hendricks (Irshaad Ally). We are introduced to him borrowing $25,000 from loan shark Emmie (Danny Ross), who we first encounter gleefully torturing another person. Using the loan, Randal makes a deal with the wrong party. Gunfire ensues. Bullets subject his friend to death and Randall to life as a paraplegic. Despite his new physical limitation and diminishing pride, his girlfriend Pam (Monique Rockman) is still lovesick over him. She works hard to provide the sole income for the apartment. Even with the menial income, she purchases a pair of binoculars to keep Randall occupied while she’s away. But Emmie still wants his investment. So with little time and a pair of binoculars uncovering an affluent neighborhood drug dealer, Randal devises a plan that will end all of his and Pam’s financial fears. Unfortunately, plans never quite work out the way we construct them.

I am stunned at how Number 37 masters pacing. I never felt bored with or rushed into a scene. Furthermore, the slower scenes amplify the nail-biting ones, almost enough for me to recall the tension I endured with Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. For example, Randal observing his neighbors through binoculars starts off innocent, as does his relationship with Pam. But both intensify and leave you afraid for the two to collide. I still can’t believe this all happens in just a few locations. I realize that actors confined to less than five locations cannot rely heavily on the locations to enhance their performance. Fortunately, the acting excels in this film. Emmie, the loan shark, is foreboding from the beginning; however, neighborhood drug dealer Lawyer (David Manueal) exudes confidence, consistency and an unmatched level of carnage. Seeing this, I knew that Randal’s decision to borrow from Emmie and steal from Lawyer was nothing short of a recipe for disaster.

This film plunges into the power people give money. It shows how frivolous people can be with it, almost salivating over it or conversely treating it with irrelevance. All of Randal’s lies pertain to money. It is what entices his mind to conceive intricate plans. Denying God years ago, Randal believes in money’s power to grant him and Pam a way out of this section of Cape Town. On the other hand, Pam’s yearning for money is quiet. Her life is uncomplicated, innocent, and happy with Randal. This love for him endangers her, subjecting her to anything his mind devises. Truthfully, I found it disturbing to see her follow a man that clearly didn’t have his life together. Taking care of him is one thing; doing almost everything he says when he is unstable is completely different.

The tension between these devotions merge into a film everyone must see. Number 37 will leave you stressed for weeks. It establishes Dumisa as a definite student of film who is fast on her way to becoming a master.

  • Number 37


Number 37 offers a Hitchcockian tension encompassing greed, lust, love — and the ways it can all go wrong.



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