A cracking and intimate fright-fest, this English Netflix horror shows how much a scary movie can benefit from leaning into real-world terrors.
Bol (Sope Dirisu from Humans) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaki from Lovecraft Country) are asylum seekers who have escaped to Britain from war-ravaged South Sudan. Although relieved to be in a "safe" country, their daughter perished on the perilous journey to freedom.
Things begin to look up for the couple when they are released from a detention centre to live under strict conditions in a unit on a housing estate in London, but the flat is in a terrible condition, and they aren't exactly welcomed by their new neighbours.
They are understandably haunted by the death of their daughter, so it's not all that surprising when they (separately) experience weird visions and strange noises coming from the walls. But as the incidents become more and more literal, it becomes harder to attribute them to their parental guilt. There appears to be something very evil in their new home.
His House gains a lot by centering the story on a refugee couple – the fraught nature of Britain's immigration situation informs the horror to great effect. Dirisu and Mosaki are both fantastic, and put an intensely human face on the issue. Former Doctor Who Matt Smith delivers a quietly effective supporting performance as their hard-to-read case-worker.
This movie constantly defies expectation in small interesting ways, then as it progresses, in larger, even more interesting ways. A notable entry in the modern cinematic tradition of "squalor horror", the griminess of their abode is tangibly exploited to create an unsettling tone.
Despite the grimy setting, His House is a crisp-looking, beautifully-shot film that offers up plenty of imaginative horror visuals. It initially comes on as a low-budget proposition, but the considerable production values really make themselves known in the latter third.
Cast: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith
Director: Remi Weekes
Running time: 93 mins
Verdict: A finely-crafted horror enhanced by a specific, contemporary context.