By Lynn Venhaus
Haunting and hypnotic, “His House” is one of the most original horror films in years.
Writer-director Remi Weekes, whose first feature debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, demonstrates assured, smart storytelling, slowly doling out bits of information that add psychological complexities to the couple’s journey.
After making a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, a young refugee couple struggle to adjust to their new life in a small English town, complicated by something evil tormenting their lives.
As they fled, during their boat ride, a tragedy takes place.
Consumed by loss, Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) has a hard time adjusting to a new life, in dingy public housing, But, it’s their home, and she tries to make the best of it. The government has strict rules for refugees, so they must be careful.
Bol (Sope Dirisu) has an easier time adapting, but hears strange noises and begins to see weird things happening in their small place – lights flicker, gaping holes appear in the walls but then close, and then sinister images materialize.
She is spooked, he is trying to come to terms with what’s happening, and their lives are turned upside-down by this hellish existence.
Because of what they have been through leaving their homeland, their struggles have a sadness underneath. The psychological aspect is an intriguing part of the story, which was developed by Felicity Evans and Toby Venables.
With the characters as asylum-seekers, that gives the haunted house story more weight. They must adhere to the strict guidelines, which has consequences and fleeing again isn’t possible. They struggle to hold it together, but things unravel in a disturbing and unusual way.
Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, as the troubled husband, and Wunmi Mosaku, as the tormented wife, are mesmerizing in their roles. They bring out layers of emotion essential to understanding what they are going through.
British actor Matt Smith, known for “Doctor Who” and a varied resume, plays their government contact, who starts being suspicious about what’s going on in their home.
This gritty and gripping film has unpredictable scares and surprising developments that deepen the mystery and the trauma.
It’s a haunted house film unlike any you’ve seen, and that’s what makes it special, an instant classic.
“His House,” a horror-thriller, is directed by Remi Weekes and stars Sope Dirisu,Wunmi Mosaku and Matt Smith. Not MPAA, its run time is 1 hr. 33 minutes. Lynn’s Grade: A. Available on Netflix beginning Oct. 30.
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.