This very intense haunted story has offers a lot more than just thrills. It tells a timely story that is both tragic and haunting. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.
When the film opens, Bol and his wife Rial are new immigrants to the UK. They fled their war torn home in South Sudan and in the journey lost their daughter Nyagak. They are placed in immigrant housing and told to try to assimilate into the UK, while their immigrant status is sorted through the system.
Bol, played perfectly by Sope Dirisu, is ignoring their tragedy and fighting to be just like the British men he sees. He adopts British clothes and customs in a desperate attempt to put the past behind him. This brings him into conflict with Rial, played by Wunmi Mosaku. (She’s elevated the entire movie with her performance.) Rial is struggling deeply with her loss and struggles to adjust. She is haunted by the memory of Nyagak and clings to her traditions.
Things are moving in a bumpy uneven manner until Bol notices a crack in the wall. He looks into the crack and sees eyes staring at him from inside the wall. There’s something haunting him. Some evil force that torments both of them. Rial believes it is a night witch come to claim the debt they owe. Bol rejects this idea. Despite everything he sees, despite the holes he tears into the walls he refuses to believe that there is anything haunting them.
I loved this conflict. It sets it apart from other haunted house movies and creates a really uneasy tension between the two leads, and their environment. It’s not just the ghosts we have to fear. Bol might be losing it.
It also ties in beautifully with the themes of the story. This is a movie about putting your past behind you about confronting your mistakes. It’s about the weight of sins and finding redemption. The ghosts aren’t just spooks and specters. They are a force that drives against Bol and Rial dredging up their worst memories until they’re willing to confront their own sins.
The production design is amazing. The house itself is dilapidated and crummy. The walls open up into caverns and dark pits filled with the staring faces of those they’ve left behind. The lighting and set design really amp up the horror elements without drawing too much attention to themselves. They work subconsciously.
This movie scared me. Like deeply frightened me many times. It doesn’t follow the typical haunted house trajectory. They get to the house. It’s nice, but somethings off. The ghouls slowly become more intense until a crescendo. Here, the horrors start at a fever pitch and things never settle down. There’s no slow build here. The movie begins in the deep end and you have to sink or swim on your own.
I loved the ending to this movie too. A good ending can save a mediocre ending, and a bad ending can kill a great movie for me. This one really worked for me. I’ll spoil it in the later section if you want to know how it all ties together, but for now I’ll just say it comes together thematically in a really wonderful way.
The movie is scary. The story is powerful. The ending is satisfying. The performances are great. This one is a big cup of tea for me. A
Bol and Rial fled South Sudan. The danger was closing in, and a crowd of people gathered to get on the last bus out of town. The bus was full, and they were only taking children. Bol found a little girl without parents and snatched her up claiming she was his own. This got Bol, Rial, and the girl a spot on the bus. The girl’s mother chased the bus trying to get her daughter back.
The trip ended up on a fishing boat to cross the sea. The boat capsized, and the girl drowned. Bol tried to save her but couldn’t. The question of whether he could’ve done more weighs heavily on him.
However, once they enter Britain, they must keep up the act that their daughter is dead. This weighs on Rial. She is traumatized by the violence in her home and by the racism in Britain. She sees the ghosts haunting them and knows they owe this night witch a debt. They used the girl to escape and let her die.
The night witch begins tormenting them both with horrifying visions finally it makes them an offer, give the night witch Bol, and he will give them back Nyagak, their daughter.
This horrifies Bol. Rial is conflicted. After an incredibly intense climax, Bol concedes. He surrenders to the night witch. It gets pretty gnarly and horrifying. Then Rial attacks the night witch and kills it knowing they can never erase their mistakes, but they can live with them. They must make their peace and continue living.
The film ends with the couple reconnecting and embracing their new life without rejecting their past. They are optimistic, but are surrounded by the ghosts from their past. They can’t get rid of them, but they can live in peace with them.