Cape Town – REVIEW, SPOILER ALERT
This Halloween, I decided to treat myself to a horror movie on Netflix.
Don’t know why I went with a movie that made me sleep with both my eyes, but it was worth it.
Every footstep you hear and the hiding shadows that disappear once the light is on will definitely scare the living daylight out of you.
Spoilers start here!
The film, His House, follows a South Sudanese family, Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku), who seek asylum in England after embarking on a moving journey from a war-torn country. They board a loaded motorboat to ride over the rough seas and gusts of wind. But although they survive the treacherous journey, their daughter Nyagak (Malaika Wakoli-Abigaba) and many others do not. The devastating loss of Nyagak makes them repent. The film was directed and written by British filmmaker Remi Weekes.
After being detained for several months and subjected to British cruel asylum processing, they are finally released. They are assigned to a social worker Mark (Matt Smith) who pulls them to a dilapidated government house, infested with rats and bugs. In addition to the poor house, they are plagued by rules, which include a weekly allowance but no work permit; they may not have friends or stay over, or even have board games, or they will see the chance to sit out.
As they try to settle down and start a new life, the evil begins to hide as they hear footsteps in the house and whisper in the walls. They realize that they are not alone in their new environment. Unable to handle the ghost work, Bol punches holes in the walls and tears up the floorboards, trying to locate the source of their fright. But Rial believes that a witch and vengeful forces followed them.
The ghost places are not getting better and they are constantly having nightmares.
Through Rial’s surrealistic memories we are taken back to how it came to be in this situation. We are witnessing the murders of her classmates and family members after a militia attacked their village. Rial and Bol hid on a roof so as not to be slaughtered. They escape the roof and find a bus that takes children only to safety. They realize that if they can not get on the bus, they will die. Bol takes a child from the crowd and demands her as his own, allowing him and Rial. While the bus is about to leave, the real mother of the child sees that her daughter is in the bus, and chases the bus after her and yells at her child until she is shot down by the approaching militia.
Then they find a boat sailing to Europe. Unfortunately the weather changed and the overcrowded boat could not handle the pressure, which resulted in them not being able to drown the child. The twist is that we thought Rial and Bol were mourning their daughter, but in reality they are saddened by the guilt because they did not protect a child, which they selfishly used to get to safety. At first we sympathize with them and then you realize that they can be the villains too.
However, the horror in the film is in many parts. First, the horrors of seeking asylum in a hostile country, exacerbated by ghostly vengeful spirits. They also face unfriendly neighbors, culture shock and the hatred through the country that you as a person do not appreciate as a human being. The problem of xenophobia is clearly depicted when we see British teenagers telling Rial to ‘go back to Africa’ after she asked them for help, as well as a scene where a security guard keeps following Bol in a shop. Unfortunately, this is a daily experience for ‘black immigrants’ in many countries. Many fleeing violence and persecution in their lands.
We also witness their desperation to fit into a culture that is not your own. On the one hand, we see a desperate Bol trying to fit in, even changing what he wears, how he eats, and a bond with the neighbors in the local bar. And on the other hand, Rial struggles to adapt to a new life, but she does not change her values or forget her culture. She insists on sitting on the floor and eating with her hands. For both of them, the only way to overcome their fears is to face them.
The subject of refugees and displacement is a gripping topic for many, but I like how director Weekes uses the horror genre to capture the trauma experienced by refugees.
This film will definitely give you chills and send a tingle through your spine, but also leave a lump in your throat. Definitely worth a watch.