If you watch the trailer for Uche Aguh’s debut feature film The House Invictus, but without the voiceover narrative, you’d still be creeped out. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on in the trailer, only that the world of The House Invictus is mildly awash with grindhouse elements, and moulds itself after horror frat movies like Goat (2016) and Frat House Massacre (2008).
Set in a respectable and quiet college society house for young, gifted and talented black men, in 1980’s Georgia, The House Invictus is a psychological thriller that examines the shared history of black folk in America, both modern and past. Blood, chaos, upheaval, sex and religion, and its cultural fallout blended with the psychology of race, masculinity and the power of brotherhood.
Uche Aguh, the doctor-turned-director, has quietly been pushing the boundaries of filmmaking. First with his short film I Still Do to his concept trailer for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, and not forgetting the trailer for The Beautiful Ones Are All Mad, the psychological drama exploring mental health. But The Beautiful Ones Are All Mad was never made. Instead, The House Invictus took priority for the Nigerian director. “I finally filmed the feature film I have been dreaming of, only, it was different than the one I originally intended to do first: The Beautiful Ones Are All Mad. I went for something a bit more spicy and controversial.” Aguh told Konbini in an interview.
The House Invictus features a core cast of Marius Sowells, Vincent Ramirez and Kayode Akinyemi, three lesser-known actors Aguh promised in February that we will “all be hearing about a lot, very soon.” Though the official release date is yet to be announced, this is one thriller I’m looking forward to.
Its is important to note at this point that Uche Aguh’s trailers and concept trailers are starting to pile up, with none of them materializing into a cohesive, finished product, with each trailer becoming more ambitious than the last. At some point we are going to need those trailers to start becoming films, even if they are short films. And after the fiasco that was Aguh’s Boko Haram short film, and the themes of African American racism and HBCU frat culture he has built into The House Invictus, I’d be remiss to not worry that Aguh won’t fall into the same rut of allowing his expansive imagination overshadow the delicacy with which these matters need to be discussed. We need an unproblematic fave.
Check out the trailer below.