Day 14 – His House (2020)

Since I’ve been in the 80s with the last few posts, I thought I might try to join this decade for today’s viewing. I have been meaning to watch this one ever since Netflix emailed me to tell me I might like it (around Halloween I think). I really miss seeing new movies in the theater, so Dave and I turned off the lights and pretended to go to the movies.

In Remi Weekes’ directorial debut, His House, an African refugee couple, Bol and Rial (played by Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku), make their way to England only to discover the horrors of the past have followed them to their new home.

In a sense, this is a pretty formulaic haunted house story, and some of the scares throughout are a tad predictable. Shadows flutter across the background as Bol fixates on something else; or after staring into a black hole for a drawn out period of time, a harmless critter flies out toward you. But the jump scares are not what make this horror film noteworthy, rather it’s the story. Bol and Rial have little resources and support as they traverse unfamiliar streets and try to get the hang of the English way of life. Unhelpful street kids make fun of their accent, nosy neighbors tell them they should just leave, and they have to prove to white authorities with no understanding of their culture they can assimilate or they will be sent back. At night they are haunted by the ghosts of those they left behind, almost suffocating them with survivor’s guilt. These elements are what actually scare us as we watch. The inclusion of African folklore in this story makes it that much more interesting, but it also gives us a better look at Bol and Rial as people with their own culture and history.

Horror is at its best when the story brings attention to things we, as a society, may be neglecting. Sure we hear about the lives of refugees and asylum seekers, but this film gives us the unique opportunity to immerse ourselves in the experience. We can safely feel a taste of the horror and maybe gain some understanding in the process. The story of His House is something I’ll remember for a long time to come.

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