His House is a 2020 horror thriller film written and directed by Remi Weekes from a story by Felicity Evans and Toby Venables. It stars Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu and Matt Smith. The film tells the story of a refugee couple from South Sudan, struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.
Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are refugees fleeing with their daughter Nyagak from war-torn South Sudan. To cross the Mediterranean, they brave stormy waters on an overcrowded motorboat, along with other Africans traversing the dangerous open sea in search of a better life in Europe. Although they survive the treacherous crossing, their daughter and many others do not. When they are finally granted probational asylum in Britain three months later, the government assigns them a shabby house with peeling walls and dismal furnishings on the outskirts of London. They are given strict restrictions or they may face deportation. They experience racism and hatred from their tenement neighbors. They are met by their case worker Mark (Matt Smith), who tells them he hopes they are two of “the good ones”.
Bol tries to assimilate: he sings football songs, asks Rial to use utensils rather than her hands when they eat, and even changes how he dresses. Bol wants to prove to the government that he and Rial belong in the UK. Rial, however, clings to their culture. She retains their daughter’s necklace, dresses in colorful clothes, and rather than using a table, sits on the floor to eat. Both Bol and Rial soon experience strange and disturbing phenomena in their new home, and see visions of Nyagak and a mysterious man, who both escape into the walls.
Rial doesn’t take long to work out what the evil in their house is: an apeth or “night witch”. She tells Bol the story of a poor man in her village who accidentally stole from an apeth by the river. When the thief built his home, the apeth moved in with him and haunted him. Rial believes that an apeth has followed them and if they repay their debt, the apeth will bring Nyagak back to them. However it is not immediately clear what the “debt” is that they need to repay. Bol burns everything they brought with them, but the apeth continues to torment him and things deteriorate between the couple. He goes to Mark and requests new accommodation under the guise that their unit is infested with rats, but is unable to convince him. Bol tears apart the house looking for the apeth, which threatens the couple’s chances of staying in the UK when Mark discovers the damage. However, this is fine with Rial, who tells Bol that she wants to leave.
Can they rid themselves of this demon and escape their traumatic past? Watch and find out.
His House is clearly one big metaphor for immigration and the psychological trauma that comes with it. Although I have no personal experience, I found this film is be a good insight into refugees and the displacement of people against their will. Rial and Bol both display what it’s like to abandon your way of life and culture and have to go somewhere completely foreign to you. His House shows how alienating and terrifying that can be, especially on top of already existing trauma.
Despite being a horror, you root for Bol and Rial. You desperately want them to make it work and I was very satisfied with the ending because of this. His House is heart breaking with a neat twist that gives out characters depth.
Although there was some dodgy CGI, the practical work was very good. I very much enjoyed the apeth and animated corpse scenes, they were effectively creepy and scary.
Bol and Rial have believable chemistry throughout, the acting was great. The movie is shot well and contains some very heart wrenching scenes. One in which where Rial has a vision she has returned to her home town, only to see everyone has been massacred. It’s a horrible reality for a lot of people in the world.
Overall, a depressing, but quality film. His House shows the stark reality in which many people are forced to live. It effectively uses a horror metaphor to show the horrors of reality.
The Final Score - 8/10