His House

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His House
His House film poster.png
Official release poster
Directed byRemi Weekes
Screenplay byRemi Weekes
Story by
  • Felicity Evans
  • Toby Venables
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyJo Willems
Edited byJulia Bloch
Music byRoque Baños
Production
companies
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • January 27, 2020 (2020-01-27) (Sundance)
  • October 30, 2020 (2020-10-30) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes[1]
Countries
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Languages

His House is a 2020 horror thriller film written and directed by Remi Weekes from a story by Felicity Evans and Toby Venables. It stars Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu and Matt Smith. The film tells the story of a refugee couple from South Sudan, struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.

It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2020. It was released on October 30, 2020, by Netflix and received widespread acclaim from critics.

Plot[edit]

Bol and Rial are refugees fleeing with their daughter, Nyagak, from war-torn South Sudan. They brave stormy waters on an overcrowded motorboat, along with fellow refugees traversing the perilous English Channel from France in search of a better life. Although they survive the treacherous crossing, their daughter and many others do not. When they are finally granted probational asylum in Britain three months later, the government assigns them a shabby house with peeling walls and dismal furnishings on the outskirts of London. They are given strict restrictions or they may face deportation. They experience racism and hatred from their tenement neighbors. They are met by their case worker Mark, who tells them he hopes they are two of "the good ones."

Bol tries to assimilate: he sings football songs, asks Rial to use utensils rather than her hands when they eat, and even changes how he dresses. Bol wants to prove to the government that he and Rial belong in the UK. Rial, however, clings to their culture. She retains their daughter's necklace, dresses in colorful clothes, and rather than using a table, sits on the floor to eat. Bol and Rial soon experience strange phenomena in their new home and see visions of Nyagak and a mysterious man, who both escape into the walls.

Rial figures out that the evil in the house is an apeth or "night witch." She tells Bol the story of a poor man in her village who accidentally stole from an apeth by the river. When the thief built his home, the apeth moved in with him and haunted him. Rial believes that an apeth has followed them and if they repay their debt, the apeth will bring Nyagak back to them. However it is not immediately clear what the "debt" is. Bol burns everything they brought with them, but the apeth continues to torment him and the couple's relationship deteriorates. He goes to Mark and requests new accommodation under the guise that their unit is infested with rats, but is unable to convince him. Bol tears apart the house looking for the apeth, which threatens the couple's chances of staying in the UK when Mark discovers the damage. Rial tells Bol that she wants to leave. Bol locks Rial in the house and summons the apeth himself, who calls him a thief and claiming that Bol has stolen a life that was not his to take. The apeth offers Bol a deal: his life for Nyagak's, but he refuses this offer, resulting in Bol being forced into a state of catatonia.

Rial escapes the house but finds herself inexplicably back in South Sudan in a familiar classroom. She is reunited with old friends, who are revealed in a further flashback to be victims of a horrendous massacre. Rial was able to survive by hiding. Bol finds her and they escape as violence grips the region, but find that a bus they need to board would only let people with children on. Desperate, Bol sees Nyagak in the crowd and abducts her, falsely claiming that she is their daughter. The couple get on the bus and escape, leaving Nyagak's real mother behind as gunfire erupts. Later, when crossing the rough sea, Nyagak and others fall overboard. Neither Bol nor Rial reaches her in time. Having accepted what they did, Bol decides to repay the debt to the apeth and tells Rial. Bol starts to let the apeth into his skin and Nyagak enters the room and returns to Rial. Rial chooses to save Bol instead of accepting this alternate reality, by slitting the apeth's throat.

Later, Mark comes to inspect the house to find it repaired. Bol and Rial tell him they have chosen to stay and make it their new home. They say Rial killed the witch that haunted them, which Mark finds funny. Bol says they decided to live with the ghosts of their past from South Sudan, including Nyagak.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

His House was developed by British production company Starchild Pictures run by producers Ed King and Martin Gentles.[2] In August 2017, it was announced Remi Weekes would direct the film from a screenplay he wrote. The Weinstein Company filed a lawsuit against Starchild Pictures claiming they had backed out of an unsigned distribution agreement.[3][4] In March 2018, it was announced Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu had joined the cast of the film, with the lawsuit not going forward and The Weinstein Company no longer attached. New Regency Pictures, BBC Films and Vertigo Entertainment were set to finance and produce.[5] In May 2018, Matt Smith joined the cast of the film.[6]

Release[edit]

It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2020.[7] Netflix acquired distribution rights to the film.[2] It was released on October 30, 2020.[8]

Reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 118 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Featuring genuine scares through every corridor, His House is a terrifying look at the specters of the refugee experience and a stunning feature debut for Remi Weekes."[9] On Metacritic, it has a score of 72/100 based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[10]

Writing for Rolling Stone, K. Austin Collins gave the film a score of 3.5/5 stars, writing that the film is "a strong debut, and exciting -- even as its horrors risk redundancy as the film wears on -- for its uncanny merging of political experience and the usual, perilous haunted-house thrills."[11] Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times described the film as "one of those return-of-the-repressed freakouts in which suspense and social conscience effectively breathe as one", and added: "it’s a calculated mix of migrant drama and B-movie thrills that can feel reminiscent of movies as different as Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan and especially Romola Garai’s Amulet".[12]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
British Independent Film Awards 18 February 2021 Best British Independent Film Remi Weekes, Aidan Elliott, Martin Gentles, Arnon Milchan, Edward King, Roy Lee Nominated [13]
Best Director Remi Weekes Won
Best Performance by an Actor Sope Dirisu Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress Wunmi Mosaku Won
Best Screenplay Remi Weekes Nominated
The Douglas Hickox Award (Best Debut Director) Nominated
Best Debut Screenwriter Nominated
Best Casting Carmen Cuba Nominated
Breakthrough Producer Edward King and Martin Gentles Nominated
Best Cinematography Jo Willems Nominated
Best Editing Julia Bloch Nominated
Best Effects Pedro Sabrosa and Stefano Pepin Won
Best Music Roque Baños Nominated
Best Production Design Jacqueline Abrahams Won
Best Sound Adrian Bell, Glenn Freemantle, Frank Kruse, Brendan Nicholson and Richard Pryke Nominated
NAACP Image Awards 27 March 2021 Outstanding International Motion Picture His House Nominated [14]
Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture) Remi Weekes Nominated
British Academy Film Awards 11 April 2021 Best Actress in a Leading Role Wunmi Mosaku Nominated [15]
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer Remi Weekes Won
Outstanding British Film Ed King, Remi Weekes, Martin Gentles, Roy Lee Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "His House". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 22, 2020). "Netflix Preempts Sundance Pic 'His House', Midnight Thriller With Timely Immigration Premise". Deadline. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  3. ^ Pederson, Erik (August 2, 2017). "Weinstein Company Sues For $10M Over Deal For Rights To 'His House'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  4. ^ Maddaus, Gene (August 2, 2017). "Weinstein Company Files $10 Million Suit Over 'His House' Distribution". Variety. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  5. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (March 23, 2018). "New Regency, BBC Films Breathe Life Into Buzz Horror 'His House' As Weinstein Co. Set To Drop Lawsuit". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  6. ^ "Matt Smith lands horror role in His House". Celebretainment.com. May 25, 2018. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  7. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (December 4, 2019). "Sundance Unveils Female-Powered Lineup Featuring Taylor Swift, Gloria Steinem, Abortion Road Trip Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  8. ^ Bjornson, Greta (September 9, 2020). "Netflix Gets in the Halloween Spirit with Netflix and Chills Lineup Featuring 'Ratched,' '#Alive' and More". Decider.
  9. ^ "His House (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  10. ^ "His House Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  11. ^ Collins, K. Austin (October 30, 2020). "'His House' Review: A Haunting, Out of the Past". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Chang, Justin (October 29, 2020). "Review: The repressed return with a vengeance in the well-acted refugee thriller 'His House'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 26, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Winners and Nominations 2020". bifa.film. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  14. ^ Bosselman, Haley (March 28, 2021). "NAACP Image Awards 2021: The Complete Televised Winners List". Variety.
  15. ^ "2021 EE British Academy Film Awards: The Nominations". bafta.org. Retrieved March 10, 2021.

External links[edit]