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Non-Review: His House

His House is a striking and unsettling piece of piece of work, and an impressive feature debut for director Remi Weekes.

His House focuses on Bol and Rial, a refugee couple who have fled war-torn Sudan and arrived in the United Kingdom. Against all odds, the couple are allowed out of the detention centre and assigned their own living space. It is a rundown old house on an estate. “You must have won the jackpot,” explains their case worker Mark, even as the front door falls off its hinges. It is a big house, one in need of a lot of care and work. However, it all belongs to Bol and Rial – and whatever they have brought with them.

That sinking feeling.

His House works on a number of levels. Most obviously and most importantly, it is genuinely unsettling. Weekes understands the mechanics of horror, and works closely with composer Roque Baños and cinematographer Jo Willems to construct a genuinely creepy horror. Weekes makes excellent use of negative space and framing to make the audience uncomfortable, and generally does an excellent job with mounting tension and dread. His House is an impressive piece of horror, judged simply as a genre piece.

However, the film is also quite pointed and well-observed in its horror. His Horror riffs on the tropes and conventions of the familiar haunted house story, particularly as a metaphor for trauma. What elevates Weekes’ screenplay, from a premise by Felicity Evans and Toby Venables, is an understanding that sometimes the ghosts that fill a haunted house arrive with the owners.

It is certainly a fixer-upper.

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Non-Review Review: Citadel

Citadel marks a promising feature-length directorial début from Ciaran Foy. It’s a very grimy and gritty horror, evoking the sort of trashy horror aesthetic of the seventies or eighties video scene. It’s unpleasant and nasty stuff, which is exactly what you’d expect from a horror film. On the other hand, it occasionally seems too nasty. Horror films, by virtue of their genre, often wind up feeling a little reactionary. Citadel is an urban horror film, reflecting the concerns and the nightmares of inner-city living, turning happy-slapping hoodies with ASBOs into literal monsters.

I got you, babe...

I got you, babe…

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