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His House Review: It Is Filled With Guilty Terrors

His House(Netflix)

Starring  Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu and Matt Smith

Directed by Remi Weekes

Rating: ** ½ 

Having recently seen  the finest film on the migratory  experience Adu(to which I gave a  5-star rating) His House seems pretty  tepid in comparison.  The  setting is London where  a discernibly bereft Sudanese couple Bol  and his wife Rial   arrive as illegal immigrants. Immediately they are  whisked away to a  dilapidated house in suburban London which would serve  as  their new home provided they behave  themselves.

 It’s hard to be the ideal obedient immigrant when the walls  of your new home are filled with the shrieks  of  ghosts who have come to haunt Bol and Rial for their sins  in the past. It takes us  a good 90 minutes  to get  to the couple’s  actual guilt which threatens to tear their mental  equilibrium apart.   While both the actors Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisuare attuned to the  screenplay’s need  for drama within the  given milieu  of normalcy, they are  unable to take the  awkwardness out of the narrative.

More  interesting than the  ghouls who haunt their house are Bol and Rial’s migratory experiences  in London. In one such  incident  Rial loses her way on the streets  of London and  asks  a bunch of black boys  some direction.These boys  are the same  race and colour as Rial. But they are Londoners with  British accents who look down on the refugee experience and heckle Rial  and her accent.

It’s a harrowing sequence brimming over with a snarling indignation. Whenever the director loosens his hold on the horror  of  the  couple’s experience there are interesting sidelights  on  the story telling. In an early sequence Bol  wakes up from a  nightmare when his wife asks him what he was  dreaming about. He  says he was dreaming about her.

 “That explains the screams,” Rail chuckles.

 Sadly  the  film losses its warmth and  humour as it  progresses. We  are soon left with a chilling  plot about nasty ghouls stalking the  house  with murderous intentions. I  get the point about the  impossibility  of leaving behind one’s past transgressions. But the film is far too heavily burdened with  macabre manifestations of  guilt, and the second-half  of  the eerie  narration  seems to owe a  distant debt to Darren Aronofsky’s Mother. That, let me tell you, is not  a good  place to be  in.

 I found  the  film’s scares  to be more oppressive than intimidating. And  the estrangement between  the  couple   cause  by the  spirits in their home  is just as abrupt as  their final decision to be the  “good” refugees that they are required  to be. This  in theory, means Bol can’t rip open the walls of their adopted home to find the  ghouls.And  Rial would have to stop mourning for her dead  daughter.

There isn’t much to be  said about the  submissiveness that the  characters are subjected to  , when in  fact we the audience are  also expected to submit to a  certain code that the director puts forward.Do not make  a fuss if you want to stay in an adopted country.Do not  get noisily frightened . This is not  film about crying out loud. Remain calm. There are are forces at work that you may distract.

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