Julien Neaves – Editor
Trinidad and Tobago soca veteran Neil “Iwer” George, known for songs like Bottom In De Road and Take Ah Bathe, decided to make a movie. And, well, he made something. I will be getting into some mild spoilers from here on so SPOILER ALERT.
In Soca Prison George plays a version of himself who has been locked up in the titular prison where people are imprisoned for soca-related crimes. Like a lot of things in this film you just have to go with it. A group of young promoters sign him to a lucrative deal but when George reneges they sic the militaristic bounty hunters the Soca SWAT on him. Sure, why not?
Where to start? In terms of production quality the film is rough, with some harsh editing and audio issues. The cinematography is pretty basic but at least it’s functional. The cast is populated with George’s fellow artistes, and some other music and media industry people, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand soca fans will enjoy playing “spot the artiste” but these are not, you know, actors. So to call the performances pedestrian would be an overstatement. Perhaps adding some actual actors could have lifted the overall quality of the thing. #justsaying.
Even George seems to struggle to play an entertaining version of himself and comes off very low energy. Unlike fellow soca star Machel Montano’s film Bazodee, Soca Prison does not incorporate much of George’s discography other than a literal promotional video and a couple of times his character sings. A bit of a wasted opportunity there.
The plot, the very little there is, is paper thin. And the movie can’t seem to figure out what it is. It starts off as a dull music industry drama, veers into a not-so-subtle meta-commentary on George’s career and the soca industry, and then suddenly a light fantasy film? You see Iwer George sings a lot about water, frequently uses it as a prop and has the nickname “The Water God”. Well in Soca Prison he has literal water powers a la The X-Men. Actually the out-of-nowhere-powers aspect and him being chased by the super serious Soca SWAT were the only two interesting aspects of the film.
Sadly Soca Prison is not serious enough to take it seriously nor is it silly enough to be so-bad-it’s-good funny. It’s just a bit of a slog. Even at under an hour I found myself frequently checking the time, wondering when this prison sentence would end. And the film does end on an anti-climactic cliffhanger. According to George on the YouTube pre-show he is planning one or two more of these episodes. Hopefully they are better than this first effort, otherwise we will need to send him to Film Prison.
Rating: 3 out of 10 hands in de air