A couple flee their native Sudan for England. They’re granted probationary asylum and housing. The filthy single family unit has peeling walls and faulty wiring, but it’s theirs alone. Forbidden to work or relocate lest they face deportation, they spend their days isolated in the house only to realize a malevolent force haunts its walls.
The setup appears reductive. Earnest, hard-working black immigrants against the dispassionate white bureaucracy. A shady, maybe-racist agent. The husband, eager to assimilate, painted as traitorous, the wife—clinging to her native culture—painted as noble.
But, to the film’s credit, it upends these expectations. The hints come early. Lost among the maze of neighborhood row-houses, the wife approaches some black youths for help. They mock her accent and urge her to “Go back to Africa.”
Later, as the creepiness ratchets up at home, we get a terrific plot twist that upends our perception of the couple, and reveals the film’s true nature as about survivor’s guilt. A point nailed home with an on-the-nose shot of their crowded house in the finale.
I liked the intent and how it commits to the horror, going full creature-feature in the end. But it proves more circumspect in its social commentary. The metaphor raises intriguing questions around refugee trauma, but the film floats no uncomfortable answers. A shame. We’d label someone racist who didn’t want refugees living next door, yet would anyone take this pair and their demon? After all, most refugees have demons. This couple’s just happens to be literal.