Review: House Arrest

04:56 by Kaggwa Andrew

House Arrest, Uganda’s most awarded film of 2015 and one of the two nominated Ugandan films for the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs) was eventually given a proper premiere this December.
This was at the National Theatre only a week to Christmas.
Considering the angle you may want to look at things, House Arrest was one film that took itself serious, the well thought after poster which featured probably the only cast, William Ndawula, Faridah Kuteesa (probably Uganda’s best ‘silent’ actress, but we shall talk about that later) and Jakira Suudi.
Kuteesa’s face covered three quarters of the poster and was in the middle, which is a screamer that she is the lead but then Ndawula and Suudi were besides her; both lean, handsome and for some reason pissed off.
In my stupid mind, I imagine a thrill of a love story where a good bad boy, is pissed off by a real bad boy interested in his sweetheart, how they end up in the same house! that I didn’t imagine. But then the lines- transparent ones were thrown into the mix.
It became confusing, it probably meant one of the lead acts had split personality issues or all – but a threesome of split personalities? Not even Jeff Davis would make such a cocktail, but again, another hatch told me it was just a poster only intended to present the title and cast.
You could blame us for looking for answers in places they don’t exist but the poster was some work of brilliance, lots of underlying messages, graphical layers used as collage to tell us something…or I thought.
House Arrest the film and the poster are two different things, where one is thrilling, aggressive, attacking and ready to put you on the edge the later is just salt and water – utter drama…the kind of bitchy Deception kind of drama that has nothing to do with slither in the air.
While the first ten minutes of the films are totally forgettable, House Arrest is actually a film about a young woman Alice Kigozi (Kuteesa) who can’t leave her matrimonial house because of her deceased abusive husband’s ghost! (Weird right?)
Of course the director, who doubled as the writer and screen writer deserves kudos for bringing to life one of the commonest thrills we’ve listened to on our way to adulthood; the fire place stories of a man that sacrificed his son for wealth and now can’t get any sleep because the son’s ghost is always waking him up to go work!
House Arrest was the kind, totally relatable and yet less believable – the kind you would easily note that you’ve heard of such stories but can’t really name a person it happened to.
We see Kuteesa bring the enigmatic corporate secretive Kigozi to life with her charismatic exploits. but problem is that we don’t really see Kigozi, what we see is collective metaphors and images of what stereotypes suggest a corporate Ugandan woman should be; we can’t point a specific character on this woman, is she an accountant, auditor, banker or lawyer?
The film fails to grow on you or delve the viewer into her scary world – when it comes to films, it is usually the ability to grab the viewer, encompass him into the fictional world and carry him to the end.
With House Arrest though, just like many others, we have the film, characters and audience all moving on their own, and probably God for us all – for instance, much as the lighting and camera work are near perfect; the crafting of fabulous frames especially with emotional close-ups, they barely aid the thrilling of this story to thrill.
To be fair, for a story where a ghost takes as much time as the lead actress on the screen, the lighting or sound needed an extra touch to make us feel what Kigozi was going through, to share her pain and thus helping us understand her character better.
Because a film is written for the audience not the actors – a comedy must make the audience laugh not just the actors in it and in the same way, with a ghost throwing books and stuff, the audience was meant to be scared not laughing!
Not that House Arrest had to be perfect, come on, I’ve seen mistakes of continuation in Harry Porter, Slum dog Millionaire and the rest but this film had to take care of a few things, making the story believable and applying a gonzo feel that doesn’t leave the audience in the auditorium but carries them to the said house.
House Arrest is an ok film, maybe thrilling wasn’t on their agenda or maybe they just wanted to tell a story regardless of how they told it, as long as the audience liked it.
The film alongside Call 112 also by Kenneth Sebagala is nominated for two awards at the AMVCAs.
Click here to vote.
*Review is based on the Uganda Film Festival submitted version, just in case a few things were redone before the premiere

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