His House 2020 is not your typical horror, it’s a underrated masterpiece, says COHEN MATTHEWS
TITLE: His House
DIRECTOR: Remi Weekes
CAST: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith
Review of His House 2020
It was a quiet Sunday a few months ago that I first stumbled across a little movie on Netflix named His House. On a whim, I pressed play and hoped it would provide an adequate bit of background noise as I carried on with whatever mundane task was at hand.
Friends, how wrong I was.
His House is a horror/thriller written and directed by Remi Weekes and centres around a refugee couple, Bol and Rial, as they struggle to settle in England after fleeing from South Sudan.
It was this unusual vantage point that first caught my attention. How often do we see characters like this in genre fiction, let alone in horror? It’s a refreshing change for certain – I for one, am sick to the back teeth of the cookie-cutter horror protagonists we get so much of. Don’t get me wrong, I love a final girl, but a little change is refreshing and well overdue.
Regardless, we meet Bol and Rial on the cusp of realising their dream. They have made the perilous journey from South Sudan with their daughter, Nyagak, and have arrived in the UK via the English Channel after barely surviving the treacherous crossing on an overcrowded motorboat and are granted probational asylum after living in a detention centre.
The couple are provided with a crumbling house on an estate in the outskirts of London, flanked by hostile, racist neighbours and given a list of rules and restrictions they must adhere to, lest they be deported.
Bol, who was a successful banker in his native Sudan, is eager to start anew, and does all he can to assimilate into their new surroundings, even going as far as insisting they speak English at home, eat with metal utensils and change the way they dress. Rial, on the other hand, does not wish to abandon her culture, and tensions flare between the once happy couple.
When they begin to experience strange phenomena inside the house, those tensions erupt, and Rial insists they are being haunted by an apeth – A word which in their native Dinka means “witch”.
As far as spoilers go, I’m ending them here, but know this: For the last two thirds of this film, I watched with mouth agape, literally on the edge of my seat.
Why it works
Horror is at its most effective when it draws upon the human experience. That’s why people made monsters. Folkloric Vampires roaming the night to feast on our loved ones helped us explain our fear of then unknown illnesses. Demonic possessions were a perfect way to rationalise mental illness. Ghosts, as much as they may scare us, give us hope that there’s life beyond this.
The folkloric apeth and other ghouls of His House represent grief, guilt and consequences, but it is so much more than a simple haunted house film. It’s wrapped up so tightly with the real life horror of war, racial tensions and being an outsider in an unfamiliar surrounding that the whole thing is saturated in constant dread.
Every single scene in His House is tense. From Bol shopping for a new look or visiting the local social club, to Rial navigating her way through the twists and turns of endless grey streets and eventually asking for directions, Weekes makes sure we’re right there with them, experiencing the couple’s fear.
Weekes, along with the impeccable acting of Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu, allow the supernatural scares to be so grounded in reality that it is impossible not to be moved by the end result.
The storytelling is exceptional, the cinematography is encapsulating and the result is heart-wrenching.
His House, is not a light watch. It’s not a fun Halloween movie to watch with your friends.
If, however, you’re looking for the type of horror that’s rooted in the sad truths of reality and leaves you feeling that you’ve been drop kicked in the stomach, look no further.
Watch His House 20202 Trailer
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