When I first sat down to watch His House I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was it starred Wunmi Mosaku (one of the stars of Lovecraft Country) and Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor). Now 93 minutes later I cannot gush enough about this film.
Directed by Remi Weekes (who is making his feature film debut) His House tells a story that makes you terrified, but at the same time makes you think. I know how clichéd that might sound, but it’s true. His House opens with a couple fleeing from a nondescript part of Africa. We then cut to them in England having successfully found asylum.
Bol (Sope Dirisu) and his wife Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are lucky enough to get placement in a house. They are told that if they miss an appointment then they will lose the house and potentially be sent back. Fearful of this Bol does his best to acclimate to his new surroundings, while Rial finds herself lamenting the loss of their daughter. Even though Bol is finding it easier to adjust their something that has followed them across the ocean. In essence, it is their past and unless they face it they may lose themselves to it.
Scratching beneath the surface
His House is a phenomenal film. Director Remi Meekes has shown a deft hand at telling this timely story. A tale of two people trying to find peace away from their own home is deeply moving. He doesn’t shy away from the harshness of this strange country for Bol and Rial. In one the estate Rial finds herself in feels like a labyrinth designed to keep her in. It’s claustrophobic and when she finally finds aid it turns into an all too real moment of horror.
What makes the film work so well is that Remi balances the natural and the supernatural. Neither feels like it is overbearing and it all works seamlessly. On the supernatural element, it is handled quite well. Though the special effects aren’t blockbuster they are utilised to tremendous effect. There is an excellent usage of lighting to make what bumps in the night look as foreboding as possible.
The score is also another element on point. It punctuates the emotional beats of the film superbly adding further gravity to the already intense scenes, as well as the more emotional ones.
Finding the heart in horror
The best part of the film for me though was the characters. Bol and Rial are fascinating individuals. This is accomplished in no small part to the writing and Mosaku and Dirisu’s performances. They deal with the darker, supernatural elements of the film with far more capability than most horror protagonists.
They don’t mess around with trivial issues, everything is quite earnest. And even when they have points of denial that might stop them from being saved it still is there for a purpose. It all feels earned and genuine and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
If I had any issues with the film it would be the ending felt somewhat strange to me. I had to sit with it, digest what had happened before coming to fully understand it. That’s what I recommend for anyone who watches His House.
His House is a different kind of horror. Not one that I expected to be watching during this Halloween season. I can best describe it as the horror that broke my heart and that is the highest compliment I can give it.
Stay tuned to Scannain for more reviews, news and interviews and have an enjoyable Halloween, whatever way you are celebrating it.