His House

03/09/2023 07:45

Film: His House

Year: 2020

Director: Remi Weekes

Writer: Remi Weekes

Starring: Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku and Malaika Wakoli-Abigaba



This was a movie that I heard about thanks to horror movie podcasts. I tried to fit this in before my end of year list, but I ran out of time. It still went on a list of ones to check out. I decided to give this a watch as part of my Black Appreciation in February for Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast.

Synopsis: a refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but when they struggle to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.

We start this movie during this couple’s escape. There is Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial Majur (Wunmi Mosaku). They also have a daughter, Nyagak (Malaika Wakoli-Abigaba). This trio is in the back of a truck and then in a boat in the water.

It then jumps to them being held in a refugee camp. We learn that during their journey, Nyagak was lost. It is later that it is revealed that she was lost at sea. That made this much more harrowing for me. This couple is trying to keep it together. That is when they’re called in front of the committee. They are given a place to live and allowed to leave the camp.

They show up to the house and meet with Mark Essworth (Matt Smith). He tells them how lucky they are as they’re given a full house where most of the time, families are forced to share. The place isn’t great, but it is theirs. They only have a few rules, which include that they’re not able to get jobs or move. The government gives them a stipend. It seems to me like they need to get through a probatory period.

Their dream becomes a nightmare though. Not only are their neighbors not nice to them, but there is a presence in their house. They believe it to be a witch, played by Javier Botet. This entity conjures up zombie like ghosts. Nyagak is also there. She spooks Bol, but she does protect him. Rial and her talk as well.

Rial wanted to flee at first, but with the spirit of this girl in the house, she can stay. She isn’t afraid to be sent back to Sudan either. Bol on the other hand is willing to put up with the punishment for the chance to stay. He will fight back against this entity. Sins of the past need to be paid for if they’re going to survive.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. This is a movie that is interesting. It ends up being a contained story to this house. They’re not stuck there physically. Both characters come and go during the day, but it is the night when they are afraid. I would be too. This makes for an interesting ghost story and why this couple cannot leave. That tends to be the gripe for movies in this sub-genre.

Now where I want to start is with this being a haunted house movie. I don’t think the house was haunted before they arrived. It is in shambles, but it is lower income. This is a refugee couple so they’re given a house that is in disarray. It is big. There are multiple characters who comment on it including Mark. Those that make this comment state that they should be grateful. This is where I side with Rial. Despite what was given to them, it doesn’t give the right to anyone to treat them lesser. We see Rial get bullied by teens. Mark and those he works with also use another form of bullying with Bol. They aren’t listening or helping them. It made me feel bad for them. Having the backdrop of forcing them back to their country which is in turmoil adds stakes here. I love the character of Rial in that she has enough pride to say that she will go back to not be treated as a lesser human. Bol is too proud and determined to make it work. This angle forces him to face what he must.

Then to go back to something I brought up about them bringing the entity. This seems like an African take a witch called Apeth. It is punishing Bol for different decisions that he made. This was an interesting idea to me. I’m not going to spoil what was done. One of things was noteworthy. I can’t blame him, but it is also shady. It also makes sense with what happens to Nyagak as to why he’s being punished. This puts Rial in an curious position. She must stay with her husband or leave him while he decides to accept his fate or fight. Apeth also can put ghosts in the house. They look like zombies which was good. This makes it feel almost like a Fulci/Gates of Hell movie which I enjoyed.

That should be enough for these elements, so I’ll go to the acting. Dirisu and Mosaku are great here. They feel like a married couple. He loves her and she has these feelings back. They’ve also been through a lot so their relationship is strained. Wakoli-Abigaba was good as well. What is interesting about her is that we see her in the opening sequence and then flashbacks. She also is one of the ghosts that is haunting the house in England. She was good there. I liked Smith in his role. Botet is great at doing things with his body to be this entity. It could showcase him more, but it also isn’t necessarily a focus. The rest of the cast was good around them for what was needed.

The last thing then would be with the filmmaking. I think that the cinematography is good. I like that in Africa it is brighter. Almost washed out with how strong the sun is. When they get to England, it is drabber. I do think there is a commentary there. That is something I appreciated. I like the setting of this house. It does have good size, but it also needs a lot of work. There is also a sense of pride that comes with it. We also get some surreal sequences that are nightmares or hallucinations caused by the entity. Those were interesting in the different things they convey, both true and false. Other than that, I thought the effects were good. I’d bet we get a combination of practical and CGI. I didn’t have issues with either. I’d also say that the soundtrack and design of the movie worked for what was needed.

In conclusion, this movie is one that has a story that we’ve seen before. It does something a bit different with it which I appreciate. We get an answer to the question that comes with haunted house films of ‘why don’t you just leave?’. In this case, they’d be going back to a rough life in Sudan. They incorporate a take on the witch that I’ve not seen before and their ghosts are different as well. The acting is good. This is a well-made movie. I rather enjoyed my time. Not sure if this would have been a contender for my top ten of the year. That’s not to say it isn’t worth a viewing, especially if these elements work for you.


My Rating: 7.5 out of 10