Socialist Worker

His House—a realistic but surreal vision of refuge

by Lois Browne
Issue No. 2730

Refugees Rial and Bol Majur in Netflix horror film His House

Refugees Rial and Bol Majur in Netflix horror film His House


From the first frame of this Netflix film we are transported into the harsh realities of being a refugee.

This horror film submerges the viewer into a nightmare of a treacherous boat ride, and people drowning, and on to a fated journey to Britain.

It follows a couple, Rial and Bol Majur, who have escaped from the civil war in South Sudan to a small English town.

The lead characters are haunted by a witch that inhabits their downtrodden house.

The film homes in on the mental trauma and post‑traumatic stress disorder that often goes unseen.

Intentionally, Rial and Bol’s names are rarely heard, representing the dehumanisation of refugees and asylum seekers—the way they are only viewed as these labels, rather than human beings.

His House gives us a perspective of how nerve‑wracking it can be for asylum seekers once they enter Britain. They are faced by the  systemic, top down, hostile environment at the detention centre and the cold and  unwelcoming people in their town.

Weekes also highlights the hierarchical battle between recent immigrants and others from migrant backgrounds.

In a key scene Rial approaches a group of young black boys for directions. But instead of helping they retort, “Go back to Africa.”

It shows how refugees can feel the pressure to assimilate while being “othered” by the community they are supposed to be joining.

On top of that there are the expectations placed on asylum seekers to be grateful, despite being afforded only the bare minimum.

The film fuses together muted cinematography, which echoes their ominous situation, and moments of surrealism.

Weekes has scattered it with metaphors to epitomise the complexities of grappling with sacrifice and the pain of asylum seekers’ histories.

His House is out now on Netflix

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Fri 6 Nov 2020, 15:58 GMT
Issue No. 2730
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