Rial (Wunmi Mosaku, Lovecraft Country) and Bol (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Gangs of London) are a devastated and distraught—yet still hopeful—African couple who arrive in the slums of London after fleeing the sufferings of war-torn South Sudan. Before too long, the refugees are processed, then given a house to live in. Their transition is overseen by a hard-hearted government official named Mark (Matt Smith, Dr. Who), who doesn’t care about anything other than his paperwork being in order.
While it is unclear who the he of His House is, it’s safe to say he’s not pleased with his new tenants. From day one, every trick in the supernatural playbook is thrown at Rial and Bol—apparitions manifested memories, nightmares, and horrifying hallucinations. Their neighbors are almost as bad as the ghosts—the cat-lady living in the apartment above them is a straight-up weirdo, and the local teens are racist xenophobes.
What’s more, the horrors experienced by the couple are not only those lurking from beyond the veil of life and death. They have plenty of real-world concerns, as the house is in horrible condition: the electricity doesn’t work, the floorboards are rotten, the walls have holes in them, the sagging ceilings are stained with rusty water spots, and the place is filled with vermin. But it’s that or deportation, so the couple sticks it out.
Worst of all is the restless spirit of their daughter, who did not survive the perilous ocean journey from Africa. But why is she haunting them? Is there more to the story than Rial and Bol are admitting? Slowly, the whole terrible tale comes into focus, and we see that there are several shades of gray between good and evil.
Many horror films are allegories for pertinent political and social topics—Get Out is a great example of a movie that gets it right in being both thought-provoking and entertaining. His House falls short of the mark in that it’s too heavy-handed in its message. It’s a sad, depressing drama with some supernatural tropes thrown in. Fortunately, the acting and filmmaking are top-notch, making the sledgehammer screenplay almost forgivable.