Although its quality often fluctuates, the haunted house sub-genre is one of the main cornerstones of horror in cinema. For many years, audiences have been terrified at the thought of an other-worldly entity entering their living space. While some filmmakers decide to implement the same old clichés, others are able to present something fresh and chilling. From director Remi Weekes, His House is a new horror/thriller that struggles to balance metaphor and reality but still manages to tell a thoroughly scary tale of regret over past actions.
His House follows a refugee couple fleeing from their home and arriving in England. As they move into a new home, they quickly start to learn of a hidden evil. The film stars Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku with a small supporting cast that features Matt Smith and Malaika Abigaba.
For most of the runtime, this is a generally successful horror movie with an intriguing plot. From the beginning, there is a disquieting creepiness that flows throughout. This often leads to terrifying scenes that build tension well and end with a spine-tingling jump scare. While the climax loses a bit of edge due to its choice to reveal too much, the horror element of this picture is done admirably. The reason that these terrifying sequences work so well is that they are built on the foundation of the compelling main characters.
Going deeper than most releases in the genre, His House takes a relatable approach to the monstrous threats that appear. The couple that we follow feels honest, undergoing a journey of sympathetic reflection. Unfortunately, while the message of the feature is a good one, the script struggles to balance its allegorical intent.
It is a staple of the horror genre to be symbolic. Many frightening movies prefer to be metaphorical instead of literal. This is often done excellently, but usually only when the filmmaker commits completely. In some ways, this release is similar to Jordan Peele’s Us, in that it fails to convey emblematic meaning because it wants to maintain one foot inside reality. There are many moments in His House where the story wants to be a metaphor but then backtracks into the material world soon after. This does not blend well as the final message does not make sense with regards to the events that we know have occurred. Once a film establishes itself as existing in a tangible plane of existence, any symbolism becomes ineffective because believability is lost completely.
When it comes to the production, this is a well-grounded feature that does not do anything remarkable with its visuals or music but does enough to support the story being told. While his writing falls short in some regards, the direction from Remi Weekes is admirable and efficient.
His House is an original horror movie that combines successful scares with a story that stumbles in its believability but soars when it comes to its message of past regret. There are a lot of positives to be found here and while it isn’t a landmark release by any means, it can certainly be recommended for those that are looking for scares containing emotional weight.