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Content Review: His House by Arielle Williams

Think Jordan Peele but with actual paranormalities lurking in the dark. His House is a seemingly innocuous tale of cookie-cutter approach to horror that belies the deeper psychological trauma it tackles. Remi Weekes’ directorial debut centers around a Sudanese couple hoping to start afresh in their new (albeit poorly furnished) home in a small English town where they are granted a long-awaited asylum.

Our titular setting, the house, is at once a living, breathing behemoth during the day and night — the very first of the jump-scares, as I was thrilled to note, takes place in a sunlit room. Cryptic figures relentlessly haunt Bol and Rial with their eerie whispers and rapid footsteps that are the hallmarks of every spooky movie ever made in history. Just as I was about to settle in to it, sure of what to expect, Weekes turned the foolproof horror trope on its head and gave me more.

In Gothic works of fiction, horror often lies in the unknown. Not only is the foreign embedded in the couple’s haunted house, but the neighborhood too transforms itself into an unwelcoming labyrinth. Rial becomes increasingly disillusioned by the UK, while Bol grows fiercely protective of their new beginning — the two personas found constantly at war within any immigrant.

Through a series of mind-bending alterations to the set, we learn of a daughter lost in the treacherous waters during their fateful escape from South Sudan. We also learn of the boatloads of refugees drowned on the way. Bol’s harrowing survivor’s guilt along with Rial’s knowledge of ‘the night witch’ regurgitate in the form of a nightmarish scape that serves us the best of both worlds: psychological and supernatural horror. The feature delivers its climax with a chilling revelation surrounding the mysterious daughter, outperforming every jump-scare experienced thus far.

This peak, unfortunately, is instantly followed by an anticlimactic resolution that gives a form and a face to the unidentified evil in the house, who, surprisingly enough, can be defeated by a quick run of the kitchen knife blade across the throat. Perhaps, it was purely metaphorical and cathartic in performance. One could say the night witch and its entourage only ever dwelled in the couple’s minds. Though the screenplay writes a hasty conclusion, the movie, by virtue of its premise alone, deserves to join the ranks of features reshaping the genre as we know it.

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