A scare, but not in the usual way. Classy thriller.
Director: Remi Weekes (Fright Bites)
Cast: Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku
Runtime: 1h 33m
By: John DeSando
As my parting shot to the Halloween season, I give you a horror film that mostly eschews the usual tropes to concentrate on two good human beings terrified by their country’s turmoil and their own familial loss. Scary it is a bit; searing it is much in its commentary on current societal guilts.
You’ve not seen a haunted house tale like this one. The ghoul is less ghoulish than emblematic and the residents haunted by their past more than their Stephen King-like ghostly resident. Brimming with commentary on refugees and loss, Remi Weekes’ His House is a thinking person’s thrilling scare and cultural relevance.
Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) flee from war-torn South Sudan, losing their daughter in the sea, and are given a home in London by the Brit social system. They aren’t allowed to leave their new home, and thus they must endure the torments of a creature that may have followed them to torture them, Babadook-style, about their alien status and responsibility for their daughter’s drowning.
While the ghost makes sounds and actually talks at times, writer/director Weekes centers the story on the protagonists themselves—Bol’s guilt and Riel’s motherhood. The jump scares are few but the menace all the more harrowing because of the mental torture. Weekes masterfully displays the couple’s loneliness through shots of a hollow home and bleak, vacant outdoors. He also quietly shows through flashbacks the grim remembrance of a ravaged country and a lost daughter.
As refugees, Rial and Bol are appropriate examples of good people caught in compromising situations they seem to have no control over. In that way, Weekes has given the audience a realistic heads-up about the challenges of immigration and the plight of unfortunate parents upended by war and fate.
This thriller at a hairy time of year does double duty competently scaring and responsibly commenting. His House becomes our house of the mind and the world, now and forever. On Netflix
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com.