Featured Movie Review: Die Onderonsie [The Quarrel] (2023)

die onderonsie

Film Critic: Stephen ‘Spling’ Aspeling

Die Onderonsie [The Quarrel] is a dark comedy about bandmates who become embroiled in a murder over the course of a getaway reunion. A fun and spirited outing, things become much more complicated when they attempt a cover up when a fresh corpse plunges into their rented accommodation’s pool.

There’s nothing funny about finding your landlord dead, unless he really had it coming, but this colourful romp manages to ramp things up in style. What threatens to become a South African version of Weekend at Bernie’s ultimately becomes a thrifty spin on Glass Onion as detectives interrogate the “getalong” gang and buried secrets begin to surface.

Die Onderonsie is strictly about finding the fun, maintaining a breezy holiday spirit and upbeat tempo. Leveraging the cast’s chemistry and band politics of the motley crew, there’s plenty of whodunnit intrigue as the real backstabbing begins under the pressure of having a murderer in their midst.

Trying to keep the show on the road, Die Onderonsie is a bit scattered and inconsistent in its overarching vision. The cast are game and crank up the bandmate dynamics as and when necessary but the naïve air strangles any suspense built from the murder mystery element. Not quite hitting the dark comedy notes, it also underwhelms with a few funny moments.

die onderonsie movie

The cast includes Pietie Beyers, Sean van Noordwyk, Lindsey Cele and Adrian Steyn with Simoné Pretorius rounding off the troupe delivering one of her most flamboyant performances yet. Dolled up and poking fun at local pop stars in the vein of Patricia Lewis, Pretorius laces Jolene with celeb charm and plenty of sass.

Unfortunately, Die Onderonsie is underdeveloped when it comes to character, relying on enthusiasm of performance rather than characterisation. A lightweight movie, primed for popcorn entertainment… the happy-go-lucky mood, good-looking cast and pacing make it easy to consume but it just seems like a missed opportunity. A fresh endeavour for Philip Nolte and Morné Strydom, it was well-received enough to get the nod and serves as a precursor to their next drama Tjommies.

Then, while the characters are slight, the movie struggles to substantiate itself. The former bandmates concept links the group, giving them a good reason to reunite but this isn’t established properly and doesn’t have much follow-through. The detectives seem unnecessary with a familiar interrogation cutaway. Going to great lengths to incorporate an ever-present police presence, the whole fiasco is made avoidable as truths come to light.

Die Onderonsie doesn’t reach its full comedic potential but is funny from time to time as the cover up presents a range of comical scenarios. Sadly, character and story are weaved together with flair rather than forethought, making Die Onderonsie a brisk and breezy misfire. While a modest production, destined for TV movie status, the juicy set up is lightly enjoyable at best. Compelled by cast chemistry, colourful hype and Bouwer Bosch aesthetics, Die Onderonsie could have been so much more if the script had been given more time to simmer.

If you’re looking for lightweight entertainment, this fizzy dark comedy has its moments. Although, the movie’s clunky ending may be less than satisfactory and somewhat predictable – effectively a Big Chill blend of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

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