Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Harrowing Refugee Tale Disguised as Horror

His House (2020) - Weekes His House 
Remi Weekes's debut film is a harrowing immigrant experience disguised as an extremely effective horror film. Not only it depicts of horror of being uprooted from your own home and culture and calamitous journey to the unknown, unwelcoming foreign land, it also illustrates the emotional toll of being the ones who left rather than left behind. His House, with the South Sudan refugee couple in focus, Weekes zeros in on that guilt that weighs down on the survivors. 

Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) after losing their daughter when the boat carrying them capsized in the Mediterranean sea, and after being processed at the English customs, arrive at their designated housing project in a drabby suburbs of London. It's a spacious- "bigger than my house," quips the icy, snickering housing authority figure, but derelict interior of the building needs a lot of tender loving care to be welcoming. Bol wastes no time to assimilate to his new surroundings, he eagerly changes to a new western clothes from his traditional garb, brings utensils to eat their food, exploring the depressing and hostile working class neighborhood. Rial on the other hand, refuses to change her ways and mourns the death of the child, eats her food on the floor with her hand, in traditional ways. 

A heartless case worker Mark(Matt Smith) checks on them and warns them that unless they improve their living conditions, meaning settling in and make the place more livable, it won't reflect good on their refugee status. 

Things start to fall apart right away - they hear scuttles in the walls day and night. Thinking they are from rats, the couple complain to Mark, but there is a very little can be done. Then they hear sound of children giggling, torturing the couple with the memories of their daughter who perished in the sea. Or did she? 

Not soon enough, Bol starts hammering the walls to find the source of the disturbance that leaves the plaster walls like swiss cheese. Water starts flowing out of nowhere. And the couple has encounters with supernatural. All these wouldn't help their status when Mark finds out. 

His House would make a great companion piece with the last year's Atlantics, another African ghost story that deals with the same subject. The film is a superb horror that reflects on the psychological scar a war perpetuates on its victims and those impossible choices that they are forced to make. Surprise find in Netflix streaming and very much looking forward Remi Weekes next project.