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31 Days of Halloween

‘His House’ review: Powerful horror story about grief, loss, and belonging

Using horror to convey a message.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

Listen to the latest episode of the AIPT Movies Podcast!

His House is a horror movie that seems content to reside in the mundane. Bol and Rial are a couple that has left South Sudan for Britain. During the trek, their daughter dies. They are forced to live in dilapidated housing until the government decides if they can even stay in the country. The characters may be different, but it is a story told before.

All the elements are there for a horror movie about the evils of a so called “civilized” country. His House is more than just a scary movie with something to say, however. The story does tackle themes of racism and immigration, but it also deals in grief and loss. His House is a frightening movie. What makes the scares different here are how they are awash in sadness. Understandably, the loss of their daughter stays with Bol and Rial. Every strange occurrence is tied to her death.

This is where the film’s true brilliance stands out. His House uses horror tropes to capture the essence of the refugee experience. The feelings of not being welcome and fighting to convince others (and yourself) that you belong are given powerful voice. This adds another dimension to the movie. These are real fears being brought to the front through the language of horror.

His House may be at its most scary when it steps away from using analogies. The distrust and thinly veiled racism brings an air of tension even before things begin to go bump in the night. The government’s lack of concern is even more terrifying. The film may use horror to convey its message, but that does not mean it is not genuinely scary. His House has some effective jump scares. There are also some great shots that blur the line between past fears and present danger. Director Remi Weekes makes sure to get the message and scares across.

His House is an impactful horror movie. Its story about two refugees seeking asylum is given a unique twist. The theme of the film is never heavy handed and the terror always seems grounded in reality. Things move at a brisk pace at times, but nothing in the movie ever goes unexplained. This is the rare thoughtful horror movie that is both scary and moving.

His House premieres on October 30 on Netflix.

his house
‘His House’ review: Powerful horror story about grief, loss, and belonging
His House
Stepping beyond its haunted house trappings, the film is about the hardships of migrants. A clever and unique twist adds a new dimension.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Emotionally powerful
Genuinely scary
Tropes are used to tell a larger story, but may still feel too cut and paste to some
8
Good

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