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Review: Unwelcome – “A truly bizarre and chaotic film”

Written by Mark Stay and Jon Wright (Robot Overlords), directed by Wright (Grabbers) and starring Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp), Douglas Booth (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Unwelcome is released theatrically in the US on the 10th of March and on digital on the 14th.

Maya (Kamen) and Jamie (Booth) are a young couple in London, trying to start a family. Following a harrowing home invasion the pair move to Ireland hoping for peace and quiet and safety, but they are to discover that all three are in short supply.

Jamie’s inherited broken-down cottage features a small door leading to the woods where the “little people”, or Redcaps, reside. The pair are warned of what could happen if they don’t leave these malevolent, murderous goblins a daily blood offering, but they of course don’t. However, a more immediate threat comes in the form of a family of thieving bullies, led by intimidating patriarch ‘Daddy’ Whelan (Meaney)…

Unwelcome is a truly bizarre and chaotic film. Not in a good way. There is a weird, uncomfortable vibe throughout due to its two totally distinct personalities which feel like they stem from two completely differently rated versions of the film being smooshed together.

The whole film sits wrong, veering from kids’ adventure to horrid home invasion to cute Jim Henson creatures to the nasty over-the-top bullying and beating of a developmentally-challenged young man. It’s a genuinely bizarre tone and the swings make it feel too childish and too adult at the same time, sometimes within the same scene. I’ve honestly never experienced anything like it.

Hannah John-Kamen cuts an angry, frustrated figure, not helped by her weak co-star Booth, but at least seems to be channelling it, while Niamh Cusack is good value when she is on screen, but Unwelcome is a dull, icky, befuddling watch that is also oddly overlit – nobody ordered their wannabe folk horror with a side of constant JJ Abrams lens flares.

UNWELCOME is released in US theatres on the 10th of March, as part of the AMC Thrills & Chills lineup, and on Digital on the 14th of March.

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