His House is a Netflix movie that’s wayyyy better than most Netflix movies. (I’m sure it’s not internally produced) Our main characters are a wife and husband from an unnamed but war-torn African country, seeking asylum in the UK. They’ve lost their daughter in a perilous ocean crossing, and the early camera work and scene pacing shows both their dislocation and their grief. They move heavily, gamely working through the system. “We are good people,” the husband says to the asylum board, who approves them to live in a rowhouse while their case is reviewed. They are given a weekly allowance and a home, but are forbidden from working, traveling, having parties, guests, or even candles.
Their rowhouse is a low-income neighborhood, and they immediately seem apart from their surroundings, but also embedded in them. Low-key tension fills every scene as they settle in to their run down apartment, which is apparently bigger than the homes of the government workers who help them move in. Resentment swirls in the air. As they sit on the floor their first night, a candle burns between them, and you clench slightly, hoping they can be themselves and not get caught, and ejected, for it.
And then the haunting starts.
I’ll not detail what remains, except to say it’s quite well done. If you like slower, more poetic horror that’s still definitely horror, stick around. You’ll be quite happy. What at first feel like some pretty standard horror beats—albeit with uncommon protagonists—slowly turns into something much more specific, and much more personal.
The writing is quite good, spare but loaded, the performances are quite good, but the shot construction and production vie for most impressive elements. Each shot is gorgeously, appropriately lit, and little subtle things help fill out the tension and the character of each moment. And a slow pullaway shot turns one character’s willful attempts to integrate into an almost lyrical depiction of how adrift and stranded he is. Good stuff.