Director: Jon Wright
Writer: Mark Stay
Starring: Hannah John-Kamen, Douglas Booth, Colm Meaney, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Kristian Nairn, Niamh Cusack, Chris Walley
Unwelcome is a folklore horror film from director Jon Wright and writer Mark Stay. It follows a young couple, Jamie (Douglas Booth) and Maya (Hannah John-Kaman) as they move from London to Ireland after Jamie inherits a house from his great-aunt. Once they arrive they find that the locals are all very welcoming, but the house is in a state of disrepair.
Within the first few minutes of Unwelcome there’s a really bad scene between Maya and Jamie as they learn that they’re going to have a baby. The acting is awful, the dialogue is worse. It’s so bad that it’s hard to continue watching. Then violence starts and it’s just dumb. Jamie attracts the attention of some local thugs by mouthing off at them. The thugs then follow him home, break in and attack both him and Maya. It’s like watching a poor imitation of Eden Lake, but don’t give up hope there.
Once they arrive in picturesque Ireland, they meet one of Jamie’s great-aunt’s friends, Maeve, who introduces them to the house and village. She also warns them of a local superstition, and asks that they leave some food out in the back garden every day for the Red Caps, little people who live in the woods. The couple dismiss this, but after seeing how seriously Maeve takes her belief, Maya promises to always leave some food out.
Thankfully, Unwelcome is one of those rare films that goes from being bad, to so bad it’s good, and then completes the circle by becoming genuinely brilliant in the final act. By the time the Redcaps actually appear fully, the shocking opening doesn’t matter, because everything has gone completely crazy. That finale is so goofy, funny, and cartoonishly violent that it makes up for everything beforehand. Even when you think everything’s over it double-down on the wackiness and it just works.
Jon Wright has spoken in interviews that he pitched Unwelcome as ‘Gremlins meets Straw Dogs’, which is pretty much what it is. What starts out as an underwhelming folklore horror film ends up being a really fun time with a seriously crazy ending. This is without a doubt going to become a cult classic in future years.
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