Review: His House
Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Remi Weekes' feature debut starring Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku is a remarkable piece of British horror cinema
Written by Katherine McLaughlin
There are traces of Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs in Remi Weekes' unnerving haunted house horror as things pop out of the wall and the crawl space is used to frightening effect. Unfriendly faces may greet a displaced couple from South Sudan who have been placed in temporary accommodation in a nameless English town, but there are plenty of other unexpected shocks lurking in store for the pair in this multi-layered and chilling depiction of the asylum-seeking process.
Told by their caseworker, Mark (Matt Smith) to stay close to their property, not look for work and be good citizens, Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) spend their days in a claustrophobic and disorienting environment. Bol is keen to assimilate while Rial is finding it hard to adjust and is desperately missing home. The house they are placed in is not only rundown it is littered with rubbish and they are expected to keep it in good condition for inspections. The fraught couple are doing their best to put on a brave face but they are still recovering from a treacherous crossing, their deteriorating state of minds traversing guilt, grief and trauma.
Director/writer Remi Weekes translates their experience into an atmospheric film filled with curiosity, humour, suspense and distress where his two central characters are trapped in a confusing no man’s land and forced to stick to absurd rules. It sets itself apart from fitting into rigid notions of good and bad, with the characters making a refreshing departure from being one note mouthpieces for the damning social commentary. Instead it is the psychological horror of personal demons and ghosts that float unforgettably to the surface.
The two central performances from Dirisu and Mosaku are hugely affecting and the impressively designed sets and effects conjure indelible imagery. At one point, while eating dinner in his kitchen, Bol is suddenly set adrift at sea; the war-torn shell of the house floats along the water and the way the dusk lighting is reflected is reminiscent of Masaki Kobayashi’s striking hand-painted backdrops in Kwaidan. George A. Romero’s masterful politically conscious films spring to mind while watching too. What Weekes has achieved in his first feature film is a remarkable piece of British horror cinema full of deeply stirring beats and terrifying truths.
Available to watch on Netflix from 30th October.
Director: Remi Weekes
Screenwriter: Remi Weekes
Cast: Sope Dirisu, Wunmi Mosaku, Matt Smith, Javier Botet
Running Time: 93mins