There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are asylum seekers fleeing their home in South Sudan. They have fled to England, but their road to citizenship is anything but certain. They are being given housing in England, but they have not yet been granted citizenship. They must await to see if their case is approved, but at least they will be able to stay in a home, rather than a detention facility.
The home they are given is not much, but it is more than they had, and they are grateful for it. Unfortunately, strange things start happening within the home. It seems that something is haunting this house, and whatever it is, it is using their guilt against them. They cannot move, or their case will be dismissed and they will be sent back to South Sedan. Thus, their choices are simple: try to survive in a house haunted by a dark entity that using their traumatic past as a weapon against them, or be sent back to a war-ridden South Sedan from which they barely escaped with their lives. They choose to try their luck with the former, but it is clear that both their lives and their sanity are in great danger.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Scares (+5pts)
Bol & Rial (+6pts)
The Daughter (-4pts)
The Witch (+4pts)
The End (-3pts)
Pro: The Scares (+5pts)
This was one of those movies that was full of jump scares. Before long, I stopped being afraid for the protagonists, because the ghosts just kept startling them then leaving, but these jump scares were still really creepy, and they still had me watching intently. They were your typical jump scares, but they were done well, as they were somewhat chilling even though I knew that they were coming, and I knew that the protagonists would be okay—at least until the end of the story. They were not anxiety inducing scares that will keep you up at night, but they were decent enough to provide this movie with a number of exciting, and entertaining horror movie moments.
Con: Slow (-3pts)
I was never exactly bored while watching this movie as there were enough jump scares scattered throughout to keep me watching, but there were long stretches in which nothing really happened. The first scares came and involved Bol being in a room alone as he was startled by some ghost. His response was to shake it off and tell himself it was not real. Then there were a bunch of different versions of that same scene, so while there jump scares, it felt like the story of Bol and Rial did not really progress much. It was as if the filmmakers had a premise that they liked, but could not come up with a long enough story, so they just did different variations of the same scene to increase the run time. The result was a movie that felt like it was running in place for a while, instead of actually going anywhere.
Pro: Bol & Rial (+6pts)
Bol and Rial were running from their home country devastated by war. They barely escaped with their lives, so they were not going to waste their opportunity for asylum in England. In a lot of horror movies, viewers inevitably wonder why the protagonists do not just leave. Filmmakers have had to come up with countless explanations for this, whether it be a car with a dead battery, or someone they care about still being inside. This movie had a unique, but really effective one. If they moved, they would forfeit their case for asylum.
It worked because it made it clear that leaving was not an option. This made their story tragic, because it was clear that they thought sticking it out in a dangerous haunted house was their best option. It made their story interesting, because I wanted to learn why. It also made made the characters feel isolated, as they did not have any friends or family that could help them. This movie was far from perfect, but I really liked these characters’ unique story, and I thought it worked really well for a horror movie such as this one.
Con: The Daughter (-4pts)
The whole thing with the daughter was just dumb. It was compelling initially, as it was clear that something happened to the girl, and it was clear that Bol and Rial had not recovered from it. Then the plot twist came, and it ruined the entire storyline for me. If the filmmakers had made it something that the protagonists knew, but the audience did not, and then wrote the protagonists actions and dialogue so that they made sense either way, then this reveal could have been great. However, to suggest that Rial did not know what the reveal would be until it happened was ridiculously unbelievable, and it made it obvious that the filmmakers either did not think this plot twist through at all, or they did not care if it did not make any sense.
Pro: The Witch (+4pts)
I will not say much about this, because I do not want to spoil anything. However, while there were ghosts haunting Bol and Rial, there was something else after them as well. Something was pulling the ghosts’ strings, and it was the true antagonist of this story. This thing was a powerful witch, and I liked this, as it made for a few mysterious scenes, but it really made this haunting feel different than your typical haunted house storyline. The witch added added an extra mysterious layer to this story, and I thought it made the movie a lot more interesting than it would have been if it were just about a bunch of ghosts haunting a house.
Con: The End (-3pts)
Throughout this movie, the filmmakers were building toward an ending that was going to have a real consequence. I am not going to say what the two possible endings were that the filmmakers hinted at, but they made it clear that it would not be a happy ending for someone. Then the ending came, and it did not go in either of those directions. This was a bummer, because either of those two endings would have been great for the surviving character's story. Both possible endings would have required one of the protagonists to make a difficult decision, so it felt like a cop out when the filmmakers ripped the rug out from under this idea, and delivered a more generic ending that had no real consequences. They had two great endings right in front of them. All they had to do was pick one, but instead, they decided to do neither, and it felt a waste of a great opportunity.
Grade: B- (80pts)
A Netflix original horror movie that was released the day before Halloween was one that would automatically peak my interest at least a little. Then I saw the trailer and I thought it could be interesting. I liked the premise, as it very naturally prevented the protagonists from simply leaving the haunted house. I also liked the scares, because while they were just jump scares, they managed to get the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up at least a couple of times. The scares will not keep you up at night, but they were intense when they happened.
I also enjoyed the witch, as it was a unique horror antagonist. It was the puppeteer controlling the ghosts, so while there were ghosts, the idea that those ghosts were serving something else made the situation feel a lot more bleak for the protagonists. I also liked the focus on the guilt that the protagonists felt over something that happened during their journey to England. Unfortunately, there were also things that I did not like about this movie. The movie was slow and redundant at times, and I thought the daughter reveal was a dumb direction to take this story in. I also did not like the ending, as it undermined the great possible endings that had already been hinted at. I enjoyed the movie with respect to it being a decent horror movie to watch on Halloween, but it did not end up being anything special.