‘Your ghosts follow you, they never leave…’
Haunted house tales are as old as time. The reason they persist is that there is nothing more unnerving than your house turning against you. I recently moved house, and mere weeks later the boiler stopped working. As I sat huddled on the sofa, surrounded by dressing gowns and blankets, mumbling about how I could see my breath over and over, it was striking just how much we take having a home for granted. His House forces its audience to confront those that don’t have a home. Those that have been displaced. And it does it in a way that isn’t in any way preachy or self righteous.
Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are refugees fleeing from war torn Sudan. When they are finally given a trial home following weeks in a detention centre, it initially appears that all their troubles are over. It soon becomes clear however that our ghosts follow us across oceans and valleys. Bol and Rial can’t escape their past.
The great thing about His House is that it isn’t just the witches inside the house that Bol and Rial have to worry about. It is the bureaucracy outside the house. The society that remains hostile to the poor and the vulnerable. Director Remi Weekes takes this anxiety and manifests it as a series of faces hidden behind crumbling walls amid dark skeletons from the past. The gradual reveal of Bol and Rial’s troubled journey from Sudan to the UK is both poignant and disturbing, and highlights the fact that people are still being treated like animals, even in this year of our lord 2020.
That being said, His House is first and foremost a horror movie. Sure, there is a dash of social commentary thrown in, but this movie works because it takes a creaking old trope (the haunted house) and adds a sinister twist. One of the best horror films of the year.