- Katie Bell
His House (2020)
Over the past year, I've reviewed the likes of Black Water: Abyss, #Alive, Peninsula, The Hunt, The Invisible Man, Fantasy Island, Black Christmas, Countdown, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, and more, and I was beginning to feel like I'd become somewhat immune to scary movies.
I was wrong. So, so wrong.
His House (2020) is terrifying. And great. And you should see it if you like scary movies. And you definitely shouldn't see it if you don't like scary movies, because you will likely never sleep again.
At it's core, His House is about the struggles of the refugee experience. Directed by Remi Weekes, the film follows a married couple, who manage to escape war-torn South Sudan, only to face new horrors in England. The film is very cleverly written; even after watching, I have no idea what was apeth (night witch), and what was a manifestation of survivor's guilt and trauma. You'll have to see for yourself to understand, as I don't plan to give much more away here. Although, I will say this, to say that this is a story about a haunted house is to grossly misrepresent and undersell this tale.
Clever scriptwriting aside, this film contains some stellar performances. Weekes uses lots of close-up shots and a lot of the time it's the actors' faces that communicate the story to viewers. Both Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku deserve praise for their work in this regard. It seems like such a patronising remark, to praise performers for their facial expressions. However, there is no doubt in my mind that without Dirisu and Mosaku, this would not be the same film. We empathise with the characters because of the actors' strong performances, and likewise, we feel their fear...which makes for a very scary time! I'm telling you, watch this film!
Oh! And how could I forget the visuals? When the present and the past collide, all in one shot, it makes for some excellent metaphors and some stunning images... You know what, I'm not going to say any more about this. "A picture says a thousand words" and all that. See for yourself:
I think at its core, this film is effective because these aren't a bunch of vapid teenagers, travelling out to a cabin for a holiday, or a bunch of mutants, trapped in a hospital/prison, with many opportunities for escape that they refuse to take. These feel like real people. Who have experienced horrible things. Who want to make a new life. And they can't have one. Not yet anyway. The system that is built to help them is flawed, they can't forget their history and... well, then there's all the scary stuff. You can't help but empathise and that empathy makes you angry, and it makes you fear for them even more. Haven't I said it enough? Watch this film!