Netflix delivers one of its better horror offerings with His House, a terror infused nightmare following two Sudanese refugees fleeing their war-torn state.
Remi Weekes makes his debut with His House, earning himself credits for both directing, and writing, and what a fantastic job he does of merging dark political undertones, with fear inducing horror. The scares come first but there’s more here than just trivial jolts behind the cushion (and there’s a few of those!).
Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) have arrived in England (we believe near London although not confirmed) after barely surviving a treacherous escape from South Sudan. Their perilous journey across the Mediterranean sea takes the lives of fellow refugees including their young daughter.
After a period of detainment on mainland England, the couple are probationally released and assigned a house along with very strict instructions, else they face deportation. The house itself couldn’t be any further from homely. A dilapidated construct with exposed wiring, patchy plaster, tired furnishings and a prevalent omen of dread.
His House doesn’t waste any time in letting you know there’s something off about this place. In fact, rarely in recent memory have I seen a horror film that actually decided to show me something substantially scary before the final twenty minutes. During their first few nights at the house, Bol is woken up by disturbing noises, seemingly coming from inside the property. He can’t quite make out with it is but then a small child brandishing a tribal mask and a primal posture scurries back into the wall, peering back at him with menacing eyes. These nighttime disturbances continue, with each occasion lifting the tension and with it, the cushion in your hand. It’s utterly terrifying.
Familiar British actor Matt Smith gives an unusually understated performance as the couple’s case worker, his memorable and telling mantra to the couple that he hopes they are “one of the good ones,” underpins a lot of what unfolds as we watch Bol attempting to assimilate with British life and conversely, how his wife Rial tries to grasp at their roots.
Weekes‘ skill as a storyteller is evident throughout. The way in which he uses the horrific backstory of a couple fleeing their war-torn country only to be met with prejudice at the other end is ambitious and bold. Whether it’s Rial politely asking for directions from a group of black teenagers that instead ridicule and insult her; or Bol humbly asking their case worker to be relocated as he’s subjected to the self-entitled murmurs of “bigger house than mine” coming from Matt Smith’s colleagues, Weekes finds plenty of delicate little moments that intensify the tension.
With talented actors, a substantial story and plenty of scares, His House solidifies itself as one of Netflix’s best horror films to date and writer/ director Remi Weekes proves he’s one to watch with an impressive debut. Although the film stumbles a little in its final act, it’s not enough to detract from the nightmarish journey getting there.