The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Netflix] - HIS HOUSE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Netflix] - HIS HOUSE

his house review
A pair of refugees are followed by a demon presence to their new home in England.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Remi Weekes

Starring: Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Wunmi Mosaku, Matt Smith, Javier Botet, Emily Taaffe, Cornell John

his house poster

In the past, if a haunted house movie wasn't doing enough to keep you gripped, you inevitably found yourself asking the question of why the protagonists insist on staying in the house. In recent years, with the western world experiencing an unprecedented housing crisis, that's no longer an issue. A home is no longer something you can take for granted, and if you're lucky enough to have one to call your own, it's going to take one hell of a demonic presence to oust you. It's no coincidence that in the immediate years following the 2008 economic crash, which saw evictions on a scale not seen since the Great Depression, Hollywood gave us a wave of haunted house thrillers.

his house review

Watching writer/director Remi Weekes' feature debut His House, we never find ourselves asking why the protagonists stay in the house (though they do make an attempt to leave at one point). That's because our leads, Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), are in such dire straits that the evil in their new home is but one problem they have to contend with.

Having escaped South Sudan but losing their daughter while crossing the sea, Bol and Rial subsequently spend several months in a refugee centre upon their arrival in England. Eventually they are released and housed in a crumbling home on an equally dilapidated council estate in some nameless corner of the country, the detritus of previous occupants left strewn across the front yard. Their new abode is what you might charitably call a "fixer upper", but it's theirs nonetheless. "We're not going back," Bol insists. "That's the spirit," replies Matt Smith's condescending case worker.

his house review

Trouble is, something has followed Bol and Rial to their new home. On the first night, with none of the lights working, Bol is treated to a series of nightmarish visions of ghouls coming through the walls and appearing out of the shadows, along with the cries of his late daughter. Rial begins to have visions too, but hers are somewhat more enlightening, and they make her question the truth about the man she's sharing a home with.

His House works best as a straightforward refugee drama, not so much as a horror movie. The movie's most effective scenes are those which show Bol and Rial adjusting, or failing to adjust to their new life in England. There are moments of discomfort - a security guard not so subtly shadowing Bol in a department store; Rial being told to "go back to Africa" by a group of young local Black boys - but also small glimpses of warmth, like when Bol is invited to watch a football match in a rowdy pub and joins in a chorus of a song about infamously gangly striker Peter Crouch. It often plays like a more grounded version of Jacques Audiard's similarly themed Dheepan. Dirisu and Mosaku are both excellent in their first starring roles, their performances contributing greatly to adding a touch of tangible humanity to a film that treads a thin line between sympathetic social drama and exploitative genre thriller.

his house review

It's when His House returns to its titular abode at night and enters the horror genre that it becomes less involving. Featuring physical performer Javier Botet, a regular fixture of horror movies with his long limbed physique and flexible joints (a side-effect of Marfan syndrome), the horror sequences play like a retread of every mediocre supernatural thriller of the last decade, despite the film's cultural specificities. There's no build up to the scares, which begin as soon as Bol and Rial enter their home and are dialled up to 11 from the off, and while Dirisu is convincingly terrified, such fear never quite translates to the audience beyond the involuntary shocks of loud bangs and jump scares. Following a shocking late twist, a character is given a redemption that feels unearned given the nature of the crime it's revealed they committed.

His House is on Netflix now.

2020 movie reviews