Sometimes an uncompromising art form makes you ask an eternal question, “What is that driving force that backs your actions?” It can be a painting, or a poem or prose or some insightful cinematic experience. Considering the cinema is the amalgamation of various other art forms, it strikes the hardest. His House (film) is not your stereotypical slash horror flick. It is backed by a strong narrative. The screenplay and direction of His House have been done by Remi Weekes. The story has been conceptualized by Felicity Evans and Toby Venables.
In 2013, the President of South Sudan accused his deputy of attempting a coup. Civil unrest erupted in the already fragile state of South Sudan. There was violence, killings, and a state of chaos in a hunger-stricken country. Many families lost their kin. It seemed like the tears won’t stop ever. The young country which was rejoicing its independence was painted in red and within no time. Many people were forced to flee in search of a life devoid of any fear.
His House (film) is about one such family that is running away from the darkness. A family that is in need of a place, worthy of being called a home. You see the most egregious characteristic of fear is that it kills all the hope. Without hope, a human soul is like a lemur in hibernation. If it doesn’t ever wake up it would never be able to see the captivating and charming spirit of life again.
Rial and Bol, somehow manage to flee South Sudan and reach London to start a new life. As any refugee, they understand more than others the luxury of being able to have a place that you can call home. The couple is detained in a prison-like place and then after examination for a few days, they are released on certain conditions. They are provided with some monthly remunerations and a structure which barely qualifies as being called a house. But they still try to cope up with the circumstances.
The threat to life was no longer there, but the fear just refuses to leave them. Rial still accepts the fear as inevitable as a man’s past. But Bol just wants to get rid of it. He runs away from it hoping that it would disappear. But has any man ever been able to run away from his past?
It is just an illusion that you can get rid of your shadow. This story is about this family and every other individual as well, who have declared a mutiny against the fears of their past.
Bol, played by Sope Dirisu, gives an exemplary performance. The fear, anxiety and the numbness are so truthfully portrayed that the actor becomes the bridge through which you get immersed into the world of this Sudanese couple. His command over the changing expressions is proof of the awareness of the actor. The actor is present in the moment, thinking, responding to subtle nuances and still so much submerged in the character that his real self never overpowers the performance.
He is ably reciprocated by Wunmi Mosaku who plays Rial. She acts as the pivot, that unshakable foundation that every family needs.
A Man From Nowhere
When we look at Africa, we see a beautiful land doomed by political conflict, hunger, drought and starvation. We see the Central African region fighting on religious lines. We see the Ugandan and Rwandan crisis. We see the codeine crises, Ebola and the never-ending fight for power.
What happens to an individual trapped in our civil society which is nothing but barbaric in its approach. As Rial in the films clearly says
“I got saved because I was from nowhere.”
She gets inked with the emblem of both the rival communities and henceforth saves her life.
And this is where an individual starts to question their allegiance towards a community or a political group or even religion. Has this allegiance taken the better of them? What is the rationale behind following an idea or a regime so blindly that it causes such widespread devastation? Why can’t the masses see the ulterior motives behind any action of the ones in power? The irony in all this was that all the allegiance led to a situation where people fled leaving their identities. When they detect a flaw in their ideologies their allegiance lies only towards life, not only for our community or people from our religion but for the human race. We start rising above race, caste, creed and all those unnecessary and minuscule aspects that were once made only for our convenience.
Bol realizes that he cannot outdo his past. He embraces it, faces it and deals with it. He realizes that if you close your eyes it doesn’t mean that the world is not watching you. He aptly tells the Mark, who is the supervision officer for their probational case,
“Your ghosts follow you. It’s when you let them in they stop haunting you.”
His House (film) brings a much-needed change that we all wished to see in a genre that is often misused. Horror is not only about quick scares and flashy background scores. It is about facing the eternal fears of life that haunts you even without any jump scares and sound effects.
His House (film) is streaming on Netflix.
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