Horror 102: ‘His House’ is more depressing than it is frightening

…documenting my horror film journey

Always trust your first instincts. Bol and Rial’s first instinct about the house gifted to them by the UK Government as asylum seekers was that they weren’t that lucky to get such a big house to themselves. But they lived in it anyway. My first instinct when I saw the trailer for His House weeks ago was that there wasn’t much substance in what’s marketed as a horror movie despite the fact that a Nigerian, Wunmi Mosaku, is a lead. I concluded I wouldn’t see it until a few days ago when the internet started professing His House as the scariest movie of the year. I’m never one to fall for internet hype but I saw it anyway. And like Bol and Rial, I was in for a 90-minute shitstorm that’s more of a depressant than it is a horror film.

It does belong in the horror genre, admittedly. But it’s too tedious a film to be taken seriously. That we have to wait till it’s nighttime for the monsters to show up is already stressful enough. Then we have to deal with backstories told through nightmares and dreams. Their trauma is scarier that whatever monster lives inside their walls.

Having escaped a war that has killed thousands of their people somewhere in Africa, Bol and Rial Majur board a boat to cross the sea to the United Kingdom. The boat capsizes and they lost their daughter in the storm while barely surviving themselves. They arrive in London where they are treated terribly because, you know, racism. Put all of these together, that’s a legit nightmare. So, it’s hard to tell if those things actually went down in the house or it’s just a projection of their trauma.

There’s a constant worry that you’ll get bored even if you’re noticing the slight nods at Bol’s obsession with the London ways. So, I’m just gonna tell you this: His House is not scary at all. Once it showed it hands in the first few “Oh Shit” moments, it didn’t upgrade itself as it suddenly became a bunch of black people wearing masks and running around makeshift walls built in a studio.

His House literally tries its hands on ‘light switch fright’ and it does deliver a few good punches but mixing folklore and immigration stories isn’t entertaining.

Rial isn’t scared of the ghosts. Bol is ready to hunt them down to their hiding place and kill them because it’s His House. Which begs the question: if your protagonists aren’t scared of their monsters, why should we?

3/10

Okiki Adeduyite

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