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Unwelcome Blu-ray Review

“Unwelcome” tries to juggle too much.

After being assaulted in their London flat, couple Jamie and Maya (who is pregnant) get a chance for a fresh new start when Jamie inherits his aunt’s home in the Irish countryside. Alas, this new home isn’t the peaceful paradise that they were hoping for. The couple learns their home comes with a catch- a daily blood offering (food/meat) for the Redcaps (little people living in the neighboring forest). As if that wasn’t enough, the Whelan family that has been hired to fix their home turn out to be utter psychopaths. 

It’s easy to see what director Joe Wright and writer Mark Stay (who both worked on the story together) were trying to accomplish with the ambitious “Unwelcome.” It’s a part folk horror tale, part dark fairytale, part home invasion movie, part trauma story (with the couple having to relive their trauma all over again), part motherhood story, and part creature feature in the vein of “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark.” Unfortunately, the mixture of genres/sub-genres turns out to be a bit too much for the clunky narrative as the film collapses under the weight of all of the ideas. Truth be told, there’s enough concepts here for 2 or 3 movies.

The anxiety-inducing story starts out well enough in the first half-hour with the intense home invasion sequence in London and the set-up of the mysterious new Irish home. The more that is revealed, however, the less engaging the horror tale becomes. This is especially apparent in the rushed finale which feels entirely unearned and comes across as a “Tales From The Crypt” knockoff. On top of that, the creature feature element falls flat. While the Redcaps themselves have nifty practical prosthetic masks and outfits, their mythology is so underdeveloped. The Recaps appearance also comes way too late in the game. 

Another aspect that took me out of the film was the visuals. The cinematography by Hamish Doyne-Ditmas is nothing short of distracting. Between the lens flares, the overlit scenes, and the house set which CLEARLY looks like a house set, the movie simply looks cheap. Yes, the stylistic choice was meant to give it a fairytale feel at times, but it backfires in the final product.

There are several solid performances here. I’m not entirely sure why Hannah John-Kamen is in this movie as she has been a rising star over the last few years, but she delivers the best performance here. She’s committed to the role all the way through. Veteran actor Colm Meaney is a staple of Irish cinema and the actor expertly plays the loathsome Daddy Whelan. Kristian Nairn (best known as Hodor from “Game Of Thrones”) has a small but memorable role as Daddy’s son Eoin.


Presentation: 16:9 1080p. Grade: A-

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Grade: A-

Extras include Well Go USA trailers, an “Unwelcome” trailer, a 13 minute “Behind The Scenes” featurette with interviews and film clips, and “Meeting The Redcaps” which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the prosthetic creatures courtesy of prosthetic supervisor Shaun Harrison. 


May 8, 2023 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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