If you’re following our Streaming Guide, you know that I’ve been raving about His House since its release straight to Netflix after being shown at Sundance in 2020. The movie was written and directed by a relatively unknown crew but became a hit after reaching Netflix’s top ten. Following a refugee couple, the film is a fresh take on the haunted house trope in horror movies and uses the haunting as a vehicle to talk about the real life horrors of assimilation, poverty, belonging, debt and survival.
Scroll down for a list of the top 10 best movies on Netflix according to their Rotten Tomato ranking.
Bol and Rial are a refugee couple from South Sudan. After a harrowing journey in which the couple loses their daughter, they arrive in Britain. Cautioned not to break any rules or they could be sent back to war-torn Sudan, the couple is given a council house while they apply for British citizenship. Unfortunately, the couple soon discovers that the house is extremely haunted.
Bol and Rial are bullied by their racist neighbors as they try to assimilate, follow the rules, and survive in their haunted home. Rial believes the hauntings are caused by a “night witch” called an “apeth”. The apeth is a creature from the couple’s home culture that moves into your house when you owe a debt. Though unclear to the audience, the couple seems to immediately understand what debt they owe.
The third act of the movie reveals the couple’s debt and how they choose to move forward.
Based on a true story
His House was co-written by Felicity Evans and Toby Venables. Evans wrote that the script was based on a story she’d heard about a house in Essex, England that was so haunted it was impossible for anyone to maintain residence in the home. Like in the U.S., houses in England are prohibitively expensive for almost everyone but the upper class. This haunted house sitting empty while so many people dreamed of home ownership inspired Evans, and His House was born.
The film’s co-writer, Felicity Evans, says she was inspired to write about a couple our culture views as “undesirable” enough that they would be forced to occupy a house so haunted that it was also considered undesirable:
Director Remi Weekes describes a similar inspiration. In researching the asylum process for the script, he discovered the perfect horror movie trope. In previous horror classics like The House on Haunted Hill (1959), people agree to stay at a haunted house in exchange for $10,000. In The Shining (1980) money and a steady job are also what convince down-on-his-luck Jack Torrance to accept the job as the Overlook Hotel’s caretaker, even after hearing of the gruesome demise of the hotel’s previous caretaker and his family, The Gradys. More recent pictures like Thirteen Ghosts (2001), Don’t Breathe (2016), and The First Purge (2018) also rely on the promise of money to lure their protagonists into a dangerous location for the evening. Here’s how Weekes saw the couple’s refugee status contributing to the suspense of His House:
Weekes also says that he sees His House as a film that “creates a conversation about assimilation and how much of yourself do you let go to fit into a new world.”
The trailer for His House does a pretty good job setting the tone and explaining the setting of this film. You can see Bol and Rial’s initial thrill at being given a council house in Britain after escaping South Sudan. Soon after, we’re shown exactly how things take a turn for the couple and the mental turmoil they undergo as they choose between being deported to their war-torn home or making a deal with the evil spirit that’s taken up residence in their house.
- Bol is played by Sope Dirisu
- Rial is played by Wunmi Mosaku
- Mark the council worker is played by Matt Smith
- The Witches are played by Javier Botet and Cornell John
- Dr. Hayes is played by Emily Taaffe
- Nyagak is played by Malaika Abigaba
His House was intended for a normal theatrical release after its premiere at Sundance but was instead sold to Netflix following the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. It was released on Netflix on October 30, 2020.
Before His House was released on Netflix, the writers stated that they aren’t currently working on a sequel: “We’re not currently working on a sequel – but never say never!” Since the movie was so successful — breaking into Netflix’s top ten and getting great critical reviews — chances are there will be interest in a second movie.
More of the (current) best horror movies on Netflix:
According to Rotten Tomatoes, these are the top 10 highest rated horror movies that are currently streaming on Netflix:
- His House (2020). Rated at 100% fresh, His House is the top horror movie on Netflix currently according to the site. It’s about a refugee couple who are forced to stay in a haunted house while trying to become British citizens.
- Creep 2 (2017). Also rated at 100%, this sequel to the well-reviewed Creep (2014) is at the top of the ranking.
- Under the Shadow (2016). Rated at 99% is this movie is about a mother and daughter caught in the Iran-Iraq war trying to survive both the war and a mysterious supernatural force.
- Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). Rated at 95%, Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fantasy movie that follows a little girl in 1944 Spain and a fairy tale about the princess of the Underworld.
- Sweetheart (2019). Rated at 95%, Sweetheart follows a young girl who washes up alone on the shores of a seemingly deserted island.
- Cam (2018). Rated at 93%, Cam is a pretty fun Black Mirror-like horror movie about a cam girl whose account is hacked by her doppelgänger.
- Hush (2016). Rated at 93%, horror fans LOVE this movie about a would-be home invader puzzled to discover the woman he is stalking is deaf.
- The Endless (2018). Rated at 92%, this movie is about two brothers who have disparate memories of the strange cult they were raised in.
- Gerald’s Game (2017). Rated at 91%, this Stephen King adaptation is about a couple who visit a cabin in the woods for a romantic get away only for a sex game gone wrong to threaten both of their lives.
- 1922 (2017). Rated at 91%, this is another Stephen King adaptation about a greedy farmer who murders his wife only for him to haunt him in increasingly disturbing ways.
If you’ve already seen His House, drop by Creepy Catalog and tell us what you think.