His House (2020)
A young Sudanese couple manage to escape from the war ravaging their country and make it to England, but lose something on the way that will follow them wherever they go. It’s not exactly a warm welcome, but they’re released from a detention centre to a nondescript dilapidated terrace, that wouldn’t look out of place in Trainspotting. It’s all theirs though, just Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) and Matt Smith who gives them the keys thinks “You two are gonna be alright, as long you can get along, fit in”. To be honest you could make a much scarier film just documenting the refugee process. Instead though we have our new residents in a haunted house. The haunting is their own though, brought on by the trauma of their loss or if you want to play along, the spirits they’ve invoked. Their surroundings are suitably eerie to set the tone. With strange noises in the walls inside the house. Racial tension outside them, all with a heavy dose of jump scares as Bol and Rial find themselves tormented by supernatural visions. There’s some fun stuff, scenes that do raise the pulse, but it does feel a bit slow with a thin plot that struggles to hold attention until the next slightly trope laden scary bits. It’s a shame as both Mosaku and Dirisu are good. Believable as their collective psychosis takes hold. As we get further in though, there’s a real sense that we’ve seen it all and it’s a simple case that things will just get louder and jumpier until the couple pop. Even a little twist that leads us into the final act isn’t enough. Ultimately the reality at the base here, is far more terrifying than the standard horror fare it builds upon it. I’ve not seen anything intercut these themes before though and for that I applaud.