His House is a masterfully and impressive haunting tale of survivors guilt.
His House is a supernatural social horror that does have some heavy drama elements that will ensure an emotionally charged watch. But the film doesn’t rely on sentimental drama and treats the story of two refugees with integrity showing all human traits for better or for worse with a supernatural force that embodies humanity’s darkest features. With beautiful cinematography, surreal imagery and bold storytelling, this film does leave an impression and a mark and confronts with our dark side, that will long linger after the film.
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Bol and Rial Majur fled from South Sudan to England. But at sea they have lost their daughter Nyagak. Both suffer from a trauma, of war, death and losing everything they once had. After having lived in a refugee center, they are assigned a house in a town somewhere in England. But something has followed them from the sea, an Apeth, a Night Witch as Rial tells Bol. At night this supernatural force haunts them, turning the house against Bol, turning his dreams into nightmares. It wants back what Bol has stolen.
Why you should watch it
His House is a very clever film that does center around two refugees, but shows them with all their human traits, fleshing them out as people suffering from a trauma, but does it with integrity and in an emotionally gripping way, instead of using heavy sentimental ploys. Their flight from South Sudan is heartbreaking and is shown in a very devastating, all too real and horrifying way. The loss of Nyagak is gut wrenching and very difficult to watch, for it is anything but fiction. Their struggle to fit in British society, being scolded at, distrusted and even being told to go back to Africa by three black school boys, shows that they are on their own, deprived of family, friends, a social safety net and a warm home.
The living conditions and their attempt at fitting in is just one part of their ordeal. The trauma of been in a war, having seen your friends die, and on top of that the loss of Nyagak is always present and shows up in dreams. But it also manifests itself in the house as an Apeth, to torment and haunt them, especially Bol. This supernatural force is as real as it is a symbol for their survivors guilt. Having seen so many deaths and hurt, finally making it to England, where they don’t feel welcomed, feels like their freedom has cost them more than they were willing to pay. They have made sacrifices that almost weren’t worth it.
But that’s just half the story. There’s more to their survivors guilt, to their trauma and to losing Nyagak. The Apeth lifts a tip of the veil when he confronts Bol, but it takes until the end to find out what is really going on, connecting all the dots and turning this already heartbreaking tale in an even more horrifying tale of war, and the things we do to survive, all things that isn’t strange to human nature.
This twist, the structure of the story, the way the story is told and shown is all done in a marvelous way. It’s a quiet, intimate film that focuses on Bol and Rial only and what they are going through in the house and how that connects to what they have been through making it to England. Their performances make it tangible and palpable. This is shown in such an emotionally intense and private way that respects both characters as actual people and how this affects them still.
With beautiful shots, that focus on shadows, showing a shadow side, is cinematically wonderful, but also symbolical. Especially when Bol discovers a rope inside the wall and pulls it out of the wall, further and further, we mainly see his shadow on the wall pulling the rope. It’s such a great shot, of which there are more spread out through the film. The surreal imagery, his nightmares, visions, taking us to a surreal flashback is intense and scary at the same time.
His House mixes drama, with real horrors and supernatural horror in a most enthralling and engrossing way. It’s really scary at times, with creepy ghosts and a scary Apeth and some jump scares. But the overall atmosphere is drenched in a feeling of a heavy burden, mixed with a foreboding vibe. It’s a heavy film that doesn’t leave you unmoved. The way the supernatural force functions as a metaphor for survivors guilt and trauma is very impressively intertwined within the narrative. It’s not easy to handle a sensitive and heavy topic like this, but it is handled well with no pointing fingers, no preachy tone nor even a political correct storyline. It’s about people, suffering, choices and about what people do to survive whether it’s in a war zone or an established safe society.
My favorite part
Without spoiling anything the twist really got to me. Suddenly everything falls into place and makes this devastating story an even more heartbreaking one. It was so well done, the drama combined with the horror that I should warn you that you will probably will shed a tear and it does make you feel very sad about the terrible things that happen in the world. But there’s also hope, like Rial shows us to try and live with your demons and ghosts, your trauma and guilt, to try to start a new life, because that is what humans are prone to do.
Scare factor: ★★★★☆
Drama factor: ★★★★★
Surreal factor: ★★★★★
Originality factor: ★★★★★
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Cast and crew
His House is directed and written by Remi Weekes and cowritten by Felicity Evans, Toby Venables. It stars Sope Dirisu (Bol Majur), Wumm Mosaku (Rial Majur), Malaika Wakoli-Agigaba (Nyagak) and Matt Smith (Mark).
Duration: 93 minutes. Music: Roque Baños. Cinematography: Jo Willems. Edited by: Julia Bloch. Produced by: Aidan Elliott ,Martin Gentles, Ed King, Roy Lee, Arnon Milchan. Production companies: BBC Films, New Rengency Productions, Starchild Pictures, Vertigo Entertainment. Distributed by: Netflix.
Check the trailer below