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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Review: His House

Director: Remi Weekes

Screenplay: Felicity Evans, Toby Venables, and Remi Weekes

Year: 2020

“His House” was one of the Netflix releases for the Halloween weekend, where the releases of the most terrifying movies of the year are expected. As an example, Shudder this year bet for the Indonesian horror movie “May The Devil Take You Too”, where the jump scares and the horrifying visuals dominate. But, is “His House” a horror movie to watch during Halloween?

The short answer to the question I just established is no. With this, I don’t want to insinuate that “His House” is not a good movie because it is excellent, but it doesn’t have that element of pure terror or campy fun that usually accompanies Halloween favorites. On the contrary, “His House'' presents a serious problem that affects us as a society in a horror frame fueled by African superstitions.

In “His House”, we follow Bol and Rial, an African couple that escaped their country fleeing from the war and massacres they constantly lived. They both manage to get out of the country and arrive in England, but they lose their daughter on their journey. The couple finds refuge in the English community where they are lucky enough to get a comfortable house, but their daughter’s loss is an anguish too big for them.

Once Bol (Sope Dirisu; “Gangs of London”) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku; “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them”) arrive at the house, which seems too good to be true, start integrating into society, but the community and the house do not make things easy for them. The director Remi Weekes presents several social themes in the plot he co-writes with Felicity Evans and Toby Venables (all debuting in their roles), including racism and cultural identity. There is more depth on this later one by using Sudan’s folklore to develop the horror element, based on a night witch that follows them.

As a social commentary about how refugees from other countries are treated, Bol and Rial are assigned a wear down house that is clearly haunted. Through the plot development, we start seeing evidence of this entity that accompanies them in the house, which seems to haunt them with their fears and traumas. The moments in which we can see this entity’s manifestations are the best moments of the movie, that along with a compelling plot full of social commentary and the excellent acting, make "His House" a great movie.

“His House” is one of the best horror movies released during this Halloween season, but it is not a great movie to watch during the season. Usually, on Halloween, we expect to get the most terrifying, bloody, and/or campy of the year, and "His House" is none of those. However, it has some great horror moments and an extremely compelling plot, with an unexpected twist both in its revelation and its consequences. Instead of a Halloween movie, "His House" is a more cerebral movie to be enjoyed at any time of the year.

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