Murder at Prime Suites is essentially a fictionalized portrayal of the incident that happened with Cynthia Osokogu back in 2012. The movie follows two police detectives, played by Keira Hewatch and Joseph Benjamin, as they investigate a case involving a female university student found dead in a hotel room.
The movie works in that it neither succumbs to the usual nollywood formula or Nigerian mentality nor does it attempt to be too CSI that it misses the mark. It doesn’t at any instance point fingers at the dead victim and accuse her of prostitution as you would expect it to (I must admit, even I was thinking it for a minute there). The police officers maintain a professional appearance and mannerisms so much so that you might actually accuse the movie of being too fictionalized as Nigerian police (well, the status-quo that is) are not that professional.
The movie tries to moderate the staunch professionalism of the detectives by giving their characters feeling but even though they didn’t exactly fail at this, it could have been much better. At the end of the movie you have a caring father – Joseph Benjamin and a loving sister – Keira Hewatch. However, that feeling is only transmitted at the end for both characters. Throughout the movie you sense their obligations towards their family via dialogues and scenes but the feeling only really came for me in the end and that too was slightly.
Keira Hewatch plays a stoic detective who is also an orphan left taking care of her only brother. Her character’s main personality trait is supposed to be a kind of ‘strength through pain’, however, unfortunately I didn’t get a complete sense of that from Keira’s performance. Also in the scene where she gives a report to Joseph Benjamin about the victim I was really hoping for a poignant, detail by detail, no off-beats, completely on the mark rendition. Maybe it’s the crime-show addict in me but I didn’t sense that from Keira’s report. Instead it came off a bit awkward and left me shaking my head. Asides from that it was a good effort from Keira as the hard-yet-good female detective.
Joseph Benjamin’s character, on the other hand, seemed to have a lot of uncontrolled and undirected anger that was just spewing at the most inopportune people. The thing is that there were definitely scenes where he got it and his performance was not just commendable but I forgot that I was watching Mr. Benjamin, but there were also the scenes that kind of ‘just happened’.
The movie starts off shaky. The story begins from the get-go but the audience is not drawn in from the start. There is no tension built around anything and things ‘just happened’ and led to each other. However, as the movie progresses and as we draw towards the end it’s easier to appreciate the little details and hints, the direction of the movie, and how everything ties back together that we forget that there was zero tension built along the line but we accept it for what it is, a good story.
Big kudos to the script writer who for me was the star of the movie because when things start falling in place then you definitely have that a-ha moment, more than once.
In the beginning of the movie I kept wondering why all these people on the crime scene kept touching things without gloves before it finally hit me that there is no fingerprinting technology in Nigeria so whether they touch with gloves or their hands it changes nothing.
Murder at Prime Suites was a beyond impressive effort. All I ask for is a bit more suspense and a better portrayal of the inner conflicts the detectives had to undergo.