Review: 'His House' not worth checking into
Courtesy of Netflix
There’s a stronger movie lurking within Remi Weeks “His House,” an ambitious debut where the sense of dread and slow uneasiness becomes too overbearing. The film opens with Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Moskau) who have left one horror wasteland in the war ridden South Sudan, to find a new one in the London suburbs.
Bol and Rial are the lucky ones who manage to get released as asylum seekers in search of actual citizenship. They’re assigned a strict set of rules and guidelines by a detention board overseeing their case, where one slip up could land them back in Sudan. When they arrive at their bug-ridden, cockroach infested new digs, it’s almost like a slap in the face. They’re told this is the best a government can do, and to accept and “Make it easy for people” or risk deportation.
But the refugees aren’t planning on going back and stick to the rigorous guidelines, although strange noises in the night and black holes in the walls suggest evil is lurking in the rotting walls and floorboards. Nightmares of the couple’s tumultuous journey to London manifest through striking visual allegories and they find themselves trapped inside an inescapable haunted house. The trauma, we learn, isn’t necessarily from the house itself but from the past, their visions plagued with startling images of children crammed onto buses, men literally being set on fire, and an improbable escape by sea.
Week’s seems right in his mantra when it comes to the horror elements, but “His House'' never gels or lands an effectively spooky punch. Sure, he’s captured the terrors of the refugee experience more so than any other film of the past decade, except he loses sight of Bol and Rial in favor of supernatural entities that aren’t nearly as terrifying as the grief these characters have felt. He bottles them in one location, shakes up the action, and tries to see what falls out. There are genuine moments of dread that would suggest Week’s career is bright. Sadly, “His House” wasn’t a good fit and in this instance not a place worth checking into.
HIS HOUSE debuts on Netflix Friday October 30th.