Sundance 2020: “His House” Offers No Refuge From Horror

Wunmi Mosaku and Sope Dirisu appear in “His House,” directed by Remi Weekes, an official selection of the Midnight program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Aidan Monaghan.

“My House” pulsates with claustrophobic unease, a horror film that disturbed audiences with powerful effect. It’s a remarkable and surreal entry from first-time director Remi Weekes, reveling in terrifying moments and a disturbing storyline that was screened as part of Sundance’s Midnight program.

In this video clip, first-time director describes how he created such a claustrophobic horror film:

 


 

The film tells the story of a refugee couple escaping war-torn Sudan, only to find themselves in an even more dire situation as refugees housed in the sanctuary of the UK.

Saved after a small boat packed full of people capsizes in rough waters, the couple arrives in England, heartbroken over the death of their young daughter, who drowned during the rescue. Sope Dirisu and Wunmi Mosaku play husband and wife with pinpoint accuracy, a relationship becoming increasingly strained while attempting to integrate into a society that simply does not want them around, or just does not care.

Housed in a raggedy interior that is nightmarishly dirty—mysterious holes in its walls, endless streams of roaches and lights that never turn on—the couple quickly becomes aware of cirrational and incomprehensible phenomena that surround them in their less-than-humble abode.

A threatening atmosphere builds from the outset, not only inside the derelict house but outside too: As Sope tells her caseworker, she survived in Sudan by wearing the scars of two warring tribes, alive by trying to not belong anywhere at all. The cultural divide is further underlined when she approaches three black school kids, struggling to get directions from them as they mock her thick African accent.

Her husband is equally at odds, shopping for clothes in a store surrounded by images of pristine Caucasian models. Their horrors are everywhere, both subtle and extreme, and there seems to be no escape. Their growing unease soon escalates with the appearance of dreamy, grotesque and bizarre creatures peeking out from broken walls, and shuffling past from dark, creepy corners. Surreal horror plays large, with dreaminess, grotesqueness, bizarreness and fantastical all around, a home with cosmic supernatural spirits at play.

“My House” is a disturbing film that highlights the plight of refugees within a horror-laden storyline, one that questions where we belong, what we call home, and how we identify who we are. Weekes does an admirable job balancing the surreal genre elements of horror with the very real trauma of migration.

MENU