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His House, 2020 – ★★★

“After all we’ve endured, after what we have seen… you think it is bumps in the night that frighten me?”

“His House” is an impressive debut film from Remi Weekes about a couple’s difficult attempt to navigate the UK asylum system while processing the raw trauma and grief of their escape from war-torn Sudan. This film was very well done, anchored by two breakout performances from Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu.

Watching this film I couldn’t help but be reminded of Jennifer Kent’s 2014 debut “The Babadook”. Both were very well-crafted debut “haunted house” films, that rooted the horror in grief and trauma. I think these two films would make a great Halloween double feature for 2021 (If were still around). The two lead performances were revelatory. Wunmi Mosakus “Rial” was so understated and muted in the early acts which made her growing emotion throughout the film riveting. I find that great performances are defined by contrast, actors that are able to dial down for the less consequential moments and bring it for the big character moments. Those are the kinds of performances that elevate a script and I thought both Mosaku and Dirisu did that to tremendous effect here.

Aside from the great performances, I was surprised to learn this was a debut film. The direction was very sure handed, there was very little exposition, and some of the creative ways they shot certain dream sequences and flashbacks was very impressive. I thought this was very well edited, coming in around 90 minutes. It was well paced so I never paused to see how much was left.

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It wasn’t all great though, I thought the cinematography was too dark for a large portion of the film. I’m not sure if that was by design but I kept feeling like I was missing parts of the frame during scare sequences when I shouldn’t have. I also found the final act crescendo a little underwhelming and overlong. After some really inspired earlier sequences, I found that scene fairly bland and easy.

Definitely worth the watch. This is a horror movie you have seen before, just with a refreshing new layer of wallpaper on it. I’ll for sure be keeping an eye out for Remi Weekes’ next project. I also look forward to seeing more immigrant stories portrayed on film.

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