His House is a BBC Film that was released on Netflix for American audiences on October 30, 2020. The horror movie uses the all-too-common odyssey of the treacherous journey to seek asylum to create a cross-cultural, terrifying supernatural story that doesn’t pull any punches.
some mild spoilers ahead
His House follows Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) as they are granted asylum in England on a trial basis. They are sent to a dirty and rundown house, and under the condition of their refugee status, they must live there. When they arrive, Bol works to fix up the house as Rial struggles to transition. She is clearly mourning the loss of her daughter, who drowned when the boat full of refugees capsized on the sea. Almost immediately, Bol and Rial are troubled by visions of their dead daughter.
Unsure if he is experiencing effects of his trauma, or something otherworldly, Bol ignores the strange happenings and does everything he can to make himself act and appear English. Rial sees this as almost a betrayal, that Bol is changing himself and trying to change her so that they can fit in where they do not belong. Tension grows between them when Rial discovers that Bol has also been seeing things. Rial believes the evil spirit to be an apeth, or a night witch, that seeks vengeance when it has been stolen from. Upon hearing this, Bol races throughout the house and burns everything he and Rial brought from South Sudan, including all remnants of their daughter. It’s clear that he believes that her spirit is haunting them. Rial tries to convince Bol to listen to the apeth, that it can lead them back to their daughter, but Bol only digs his heels in deeper. England is their home now. As tensions and fear grow, the apparitions become more violent.
As a consequence of his outbursts, they are investigated by immigration services and could lose their refugee status. Rial wants to leave England and return to South Sudan, but Bol traps her inside the house. As they both become more desperate, Rial to leave and Bol to stay, the apeth wreaks havoc.
During the final act of the film, the story’s monster of a twist is revealed. Puzzle pieces click together and everything becomes more terrifying and immensely heartbreaking. And I’m definitely not going to say what it is (let’s just say there were a lot of capital letters in that portion of my notes).
His House includes intensely emotional themes and characters that evoke more emotions than most horror movies can shake a stick at. The realness of Rial and Bol, including everything from their mannerisms to the trauma they’ve endured, creates unique and moving characters that craft a shocking and poignant story.
Another strong facet of the characters was that the story featured both of them equally. For everything that happened to Bol, Rial would also get her turn in the story. She was not just Bol’s wife who happened to be along for the ride, she was Rial. And she held just as strong of a role in the story as he did. Rial claims the hardest hitting line I’ve heard from a horror movie, “After everything I’ve been through, you think I’m afraid of ghosts?” And she meant it.
One of the biggest draws to His House is that this movie does not pull its punches. There are instantly enormous stakes in the story, as the couple knows that they could potentially be deported. The fear is planted right away, and it grows at a satisfying pace. The movie conditions you to be afraid of certain things, and then places those certain things everywhere. I tensed each time I could see a hole in the wall, nervous that a spirit would be staring back.
His House did not disappoint. It’s nothing short of a rollercoaster with a twist ending that feels like a kick in the gut. The opposing viewpoints of the main characters and the monster they have been faced with tells a story that you won’t be able to get out of your head.
This article was written by a guest contributor