Nigerian cinema has come a long way from cartoonish action sequences on a shoestring budget and horrible dialogue, and some of the latest movies from the African nation can make for a decent watch. Tope Oshin’s 2023 romance/thriller “Here Love Lies” really tries to deliver a good performance but waddles to a crash owing to the poor storyline and excruciatingly bad acting. The movie tries to drive home the fact that women need to be careful while trying online dating, but it loses track somewhere down the middle and takes the story down a completely different road, introducing the importance of family and love. Stretching much longer than it needs to, “Here Love Lies” is a poor attempt to ward off women from creeps on online dating sites. Read on to learn about all the mess the protagonist, Amanda, has to experience, along with you, the audience.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Here Love Lies’?
In an overtly religious Nigerian family, with the dad being a pastor, the younger daughter, Amanda, gets pregnant in her teens, and the primary concern that plagues the father is the shame it shall bring him and his family. Upon refusing to abort the child, Amanda is kicked to the curb and left to fend for herself and her infant daughter later, after her family shuts the door on her because Daddy Dearest said so. Additionally, before making his wife show his pregnant teenage daughter the front door, the father proceeded to curse her for suffering a lifetime of pain that the unborn child would bring. Definitely the role model dad of the year in Nigeria.
Fourteen years have passed, and single mom travel blogger Amanda is trying her luck in the dating world, but her teenage daughter Nora always happens to be the deal breaker for her potential suitors. After being humiliated vehemently when the man she was dating is caught by his wife, she returns to her home to be consoled by her best friend Kemi. While Amanda is making up her mind to be done with dating for good, Kemi suggests that Amanda try talking to the guy who’s been leaving a copious amount of comments on her travel page, along with multiple requests to talk to him. If the constant bombardment of comments and the nauseating “flirting” that the guy Michael pours into Amanda’s profile weren’t enough to clarify the red flags, his sickly-sweet mode of texting should’ve sent her running for the door from the get-go. However, Amanda takes Kemi’s advice and starts talking to the strange American, all the while being an overbearing parent to Nora—taking her phone away for staying up late and sending her to boarding school despite her many pleas.
The very next day itself, Amanda can’t stay off her phone and is gushing over the charming Michael, but the texts they exchange are enough to make a grown man throw up, given the amount of cringe they are loaded with. Within a few days of talking, Michael orders lunch for Amanda, and Kemi is so excited that she sends a voice note from her friend’s phone, but they don’t once think of doing a little background check on this overtly affectionate man. Who calls themselves and a woman they barely started talking to a “match made in heaven,” and it’s even worse that Amanda played along. Meanwhile, Amanda’s elder sister Muna drops by to see her, and the single mother shoos the woman away because of the horrible treatment she has faced. Apparently, Muna had come to inform her sister that she was getting married, which sent Amanda into a further fit of rage. She still has nightmares of all the unimaginable horrors she endured alone on the streets with an infant daughter because her father was too worried about his pride.
Amanda leaves for NYC for her business meeting, but before her flight, she tries talking to Nora, but the teenage girl is too upset with her mother. Upon arriving in NYC, she decides to give Michael a surprise visit, but she fumes in rage upon seeing him with a young girl. Amanda is about to storm out when Michael notices her and introduces her to Natasha, his cousin. Amanda and he share a meal, but his question about splitting the check leaves her disgusted. The ride back is majorly awkward, but he requests to meet her one more time the next day for the NY tour. At night, he sends her dinner and a tuba player to serenade her, and Kemi loses her mind in excitement over the gesture and makes Amanda go out the next day. Their group tour is constantly harangued by a woman named Liz, who keeps interfering between Michael and Amanda and making things awkward for them. While stepping out of the ladies’ room, Amanda hears two workers talk about how the tour company owner Michael might get scammed by yet another Nigerian because of all the money he has. She storms out on him while Liz smiles from a distance.
Kemi asks Amanda to consider her decision carefully for the night, and when Michael learns that she’s checking out, he stops her before she boards the taxi and takes her on a very romantic date. He says that he’s been hurt too many times, which is why he’s secretive about his life, and Amanda melts immediately. He takes her to a Nigerian food place and enjoys very spicy food, speaks to her in her mother tongue, and makes her feel comfortable. She then confesses that she has a daughter and is ready for Michael to walk out, but he’s nonchalant at the information because having a child doesn’t stop two people from dating, usually in the West. All the while, the two are being spied on by Liz, who doesn’t approach them but sneaks from the shadows. He proceeds to invite Amanda to his home, which she accepts, and so far, Michael really seems to be a genuine guy, but doesn’t her gut tell her something’s up? Also, seriously, what’s up with the god-awful, cringe-inducing songs every 10 minutes? The characters might be sad, might be happy, or might just be busy with their day, and an annoying song comes up to emphasize just how the characters might be feeling. Of all the several things the movie could be dinged for, this is probably the worst—apart from the bad acting, of course.
Michael drives Amanda to an isolated cabin in the lap of mountains surrounded by forest, totally cut off from any civilization. She’s a little taken aback by the several animal trophies that’ve been hung up on the wall, with an entire room dedicated to the valor of killing wild animals. However, Amanda gets shocked when she suddenly finds a decrepit and cryptic old woman named Edna, who lives with Michael in the cabin. Michael and Amanda have a great first day, but she’s woken up by the nightmare of being assaulted during her homeless phase. The following day, Amanda is warned by Edna to leave, but she dismisses her as a mad old crone. But duty calls, and she says she needs to go home to Nora. Begrudgingly, Michael agrees to take her to the airport the next day, but moments later, Amanda collapses. The next morning, she wakes up with a throbbing head and pleads to be taken to the airport, but Michael insists that she needs to rest. He promises to bring her chicken soup, and in the kitchen, he crushes a pill into her food and, despite her requests to go home, force-feeds her the spiked food, making her pass out again.
Amanda wakes up and hobbles through the corridors until she spots Liz and passes out yet again, which Michael terms hallucination. She begs to be given her phone, and in response, he shuts the door in her face. With Kemi and Nora trying to reach her frantically back in Nigeria, Amanda wakes up in a daze to find Edna, who tries to help her escape, and she’s suddenly met with Liz, who’s actually a detective. Liz says that Michael is a sick man who has a penchant for inviting Nigerian women and killing them until the man himself walks in and attacks Liz. While scuffling, Liz runs into a room full of newspaper clippings of all the missing Nigerian women and their suitcases, and Michael chases in there after her and shoots her in the back. Amanda finds Michael’s trophy room of all the Nigerian women he has killed and spots her trolley bag along with her passport and phone. She grabs the two items and runs. He pursues Amanda, but the Nigerian woman is shielded by Edna, who finally refuses to join him in participating in his evil deeds any longer, so he shoots her too. Michael chases Amanda through the forest, screaming after her until she trips and falls. The thing she tripped over was a human limb, and the wilderness seemed littered with several more such human remains. Michael finally catches up to her, but Liz intervenes, letting Amanda escape yet again. He overpowers her and punches her before possibly smashing her face with a log. The psychopath returns to his home and does a line of cocaine before resuming his hunt, but by now, Amanda has wizened up, and she stabs him with a syringe, possibly loaded with the same stuff he used to keep the women unconscious. Michael starts choking her, but the drugs kick in, and he passes out, leaving Amanda gasping for air as police sirens can be heard in the background.
The next morning, a detective informs Amanda that Michael is a mentally sick person who has murdered at least 15 women, with his targets being mostly Nigerian women. He escaped from an orphanage at 16 to avoid therapy, and he has no money or any company, and the two workers who had claimed he was a tour company owner were pawns Michael had hired. The cabin itself belonged to his first victim, and Natasha, whom Amanda met on the first day, grew up with him in the orphanage, where everyone referred to each other as ‘cousins.’ Shaken to her core, Amanda calls home and asks Kemi to keep her excitement on hold for a while, telling Nora that she loves her enormously. Back in Nigeria, Muna can’t control her excitement over Muna’s upcoming wedding, so when Amanda finally comes back to her family with Nora in tow, her grandmother immediately hugs the kid as Amanda sits down in front of her father. The scene fades to black as the whole family comes together, and there’s no repentance or punishment the father faces for having kicked her daughter to the curb.
‘Here Love Lies’ Ending Explained – What Does Amanda Learn About Michael?
What starts as a sappy love story with the protagonist having a sad backstory spirals into a cautionary tale for women venturing into the world of online dating, but the audience has to sit through one and a half hours of nauseating cringe to get to the action. The action in question is equally bad, with the actors dropping dead worse than the ragdoll physics in ’90s video games. The movie spends way too much time trying to establish Michael as the prince charming and Amanda as the woman looking for love in a cruel world to later exhibit him as a serial killer, but by then, most viewers have already lost their interest. Amanda learns through detective Liz that Michael is a psychopath who murders Nigerian women while his helper Edna tries to help her flee, but they’re both too late. Think of Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” where the young man warns Daniel Kaluuya’s character to “get out,” but only with bad acting. Besides, why do movies always employ haggard-looking lunatics to warn potential victims about the dangers that await them? The victim starts suspecting their well-wisher more than the actual criminal.
Amanda realized things weren’t looking good when Michael force-fed the food that always knocked her out moments later, so she feigned sleeping when he tried it the last time, but it was only thanks to Liz that she came to learn the truth behind Michael’s affection. The psychopath who murdered Nigerian women and kept their trolleys and personal belongings as trophies killed Liz and Edna to get to Amanda, but she stabbed him with a syringe, which made him pass out. Thanks to the Nigerian embassy’s assistance, Amanda managed to reach her country, and she decided to forgive her family for all the pain they caused her. In the end, the movie closes on the note that you should forgive your family no matter how malevolent and selfish they may be, but it doesn’t say one word that people should do at least a background check before deciding to fall in love with a creepy guy.
“Here Live Lies” is a 2023 romance thriller film directed by Tope Oshin.