'His House' Review
Anytime that a horror film takes on a very serious real-life issue and spins it around until it turns into a feature length story about people going through it, it becomes a tightrope which many first time directors would steer away from walking on. For director/writer Remi Weekes, that isn’t the case with His House which takes on immigration, domestic terrorism and survivor’s guilt all in one setting. Bol (Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are a South Sudanese couple who have fled their country to the UK, having been in detention centre after arriving and now they’ve been granted an asylum and residence in a house in an unnamed town. Weekes has crafted His House to be a smart and interesting piece of work, and while not all of the potential is fulfilled, what it has to say leaves a mark on you.
If you’ve ever seen more than five horror movies, you might have thought afterwards ’’I would’ve just left the haunted house’’. That is not something you need to think about this time because Bol and Rial don’t have a choice in that matter; they don’t have anywhere else to go, they don’t know anyone and their probation requires them to vacate their house for a certain time. While being a great explanation for the premise on its own, Weekes doesn’t only rely on that. The house represents a new beginning and the surrounding area doesn’t have a civil war raging on there. Ghosts and apparitions appear not only because this is horror genre, they appear because the story revolves around Bol and Rial’s uncertainty, trauma and, what is revealed later on too, regret. Weekes’ screenplay plays it smart by revealing these things slowly but surely.
In the very heart of the film, Mosaku and Dìrísù both deliver whether that is in their own scenes or when sharing the screen. Ghosts and spooky sounds are only as effective as the horrified faces of those seeing them and Dìrísù especially shines on that front. Mosaku’s notable moment is during a scene where she asks directions from three black teens and is told to ’’go back to Africa’’ because of her accent, it’s a very short moment but you can truly believe million things running through Rial’s mind then, one being whether she really belongs in this new place. Where His House falters slightly is the shift halfway in and also the journey of the characters. The first half features your usual horror scares but the dramatic change to drama after that is a bit weak. During that change, you might also realise that you don’t truly know much about Bol and Rial which is a shame because the actors, as said, are very good. Where the two end up at the end doesn’t really reflect what they went through as the whole experience is washed over with what feels like the world’s least helpful therapy session. The film doesn’t utilise the filmmaking as well as it does its themes, luckily that is that unfulfilled potential which Weekes can work on with his second feature.
Smileys: Acting, premise, screenplay
Frowneys: Some issues with tone and characterisation
First film with a tune about Peter Crouch in it, innit?