His House is not just a horror movie about a haunted house… it is more than that!
Debutant director Remi Weekes’ His House premiered at Sundance at the beginning of the year, while the movie was officially released on Netflix during the Halloween weekend. The audience waited for the cheap thrills of horror movies and the classic jump scares cliché. But seriously, we did not expect the tension and serious drama happening on screen! This is why we say it is more than the classic haunted house stories that we know of.
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Coming back to His House, the movie addresses much more dire themes that the soul of the deceased returning to the living. Female infanticide tying up with the traditional haunted house and stringing into a cautionary tale of refugee crisis. That’s right, the combination sounds rather creepy… with the cast adding up the cherry on the pie with their on-point acting.
His House tells the story of Rial and Bol, a couple from South Sudan. During the very first scene, the dramatic experience starts, with the couple trying to flee their hostile homeland with their daughter. On their perilous journey across the sea, tragedy strikes again with the death of their daughter. Cut to three months later, when they are assigned a dilapidated old house. Many horror fans out there would get the hint… “An old house with a couple moving in? Sounds like 90s horror!” Not at all… there’s something more. Their social worker advises them to assimilate and not antagonize, ending their conversation with “Be one of the good ones”.
We see two perceptions of a classic haunting in the movie, by our couple. While Bol instinctively goes into denial mode, like most men in horror movies would do, Rial seems not to be bothered at all. As if she were expecting the demons of their past would surely follow them.
Why do the jumpscare cliches work in His House but fall flat in other movies? Maybe other movies would send vibes that the character will just ignore and think that they were hallucinating. But in this one, the characters believe them! And the fact that the movie has already planted the vile seed that there’s a dead daughter already plays with your subconscious.
The director has also made sure not to make everything that scares the audience based around the ghosts. A brilliant effort to show the scare of helplessness when Rial is trapped in a what looks like a labyrinth of alleys in the neighbourhood. The scene evokes the claustrophobic feeling of some while playing with the “what if you are alone in the world” feeling of others.
Jumpscares offer the instant gratification in horror movies for sure. But a good horror movie requires extreme levels of storytelling, so as not to confuse your audience with what is real and not. Remi Weekes uses the different themes to highlight human stories. For His House, the characters are not the victims, they are the survivors. Well worth for any horror fan that seeks some good horror flick!
- Guest Post