VOD film review: His House
James R | On 31, Dec 2020
Director: Remi Weekes
Cast: Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku, Matt Smith
“One of the good ones.” That’s the phrase that repeatedly haunts His House, a chilling and chillingly timely horror film. The debut feature of British director Remi Weekes, it introduces us to Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), a refugee couple who have fled South Sudan to build a new life in England.
From the off, theirs is a clammy, claustrophobic existence, finding their tiny appointed home in a severe state of disrepair – although the cockroaches and broken lights are dismissed casually by their seemingly well-intentioned council worker, played with a grinning politeness by Matt Smith. And yet they swiftly become the least of their worries.
On their doorstep lingers a horribly recognisable hostility, from unfriendly neighbours to bullying and taunting locals, not to mention their strict restrictions on working despite only receiving £74 per week in benefits. Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku are superbly convincing, as Bol (a former bank employee) tries to find assimilation through football chants and the educated Rial struggles to make headway with the doctors – all things that Weekes captures with a bleak, grey realism that’s unsettling in its own right.
And yet that’s just the first step in His House’s remarkable chamber piece, as the couple become equally plagued by horrors indoors – through the mouldy, hole-ridden walls emerges a night witch (an apeth, played by genre veteran Javier Botet) that brings with it flashbacks to their harrowing journey out of Sudan. Weekes pulls out all manner of successful jump scares, yet fuses those with an intense emotional trauma, unnerving cinematic flourishes and some dazzling non-linear storytelling.
As their inner and outer realities collide, Weekes keeps turning the visually inventive screws, turning what begins as a tale of finding hope and new beginnings into a meditation on the guilt that simply staying alive can foster. This is a story of the baggage that we carry with us wherever we go, a skin-crawling exploration of what those with no choice can be driven to do just to survive. It’s a thought-provoking and grounded horror, balancing social realism with supernatural scares. In other words, it’s one of the good ones, and marks Remi Weekes out as a new talent to watch.