Unwelcome 2023 Film Review

Movie Bunker Score:

Unwelcome: A Delightfully Freaky Yet Flawed Film

Unwelcome, directed by Jon Wright, offers a surprising mix of genres, combining elements of tense thriller, comedy-horror, and folk-inspired creature features. While it boasts some delightfully freaky faeries and moments of laughter, the film’s plot issues detract from its overall enjoyment. Beginning with a brutal home invasion of a young couple who have just discovered their pregnancy, one might expect a consistently serious tone throughout. However, as the story progresses and the couple is told to make blood offerings to the “little people” residing in their garden, the film’s tone shifts unexpectedly.

A Whimsical Blend of Genres

Unwelcome follows Maya (played by Hannah John-Kamen) and Jamie (portrayed by Douglas Booth), a couple living in London who, following a traumatic break-in, decide to move to a fixer-upper house in rural Ireland inherited from Jamie’s late aunt. The house features dated wallpaper, a roof in need of repair, and a gate leading to a nearby wooded area inhabited by the Far Darrig, also known as the “little people.” Meanwhile, desperate for affordable renovations, the couple hires the Whelan family, led by the menacing patriarch ‘Daddy’ (Colm Meaney), who quickly prove to be more interested in theft and intimidation than the construction work they were hired for.

The film takes an even stranger turn when Maya is wrongly accused of being responsible for the disappearance of the Whelan family’s eldest son, Eoin (played by Kristian Nairn). Seeking assistance, Maya finds herself connected with the Far Darrig, initiating a chaotic series of events. The final third of the film dives into a showdown reminiscent of Straw Dogs, with the couple finding themselves terrorized in their own home.

The Captivating Far Darrig

One of the highlights of Unwelcome is its portrayal of the Far Darrig. These goblin-like creatures are brought to life through a combination of motion-capture and stunt performances, resulting in an impressively rendered and visually captivating presence on screen. With their knife-wielding antics and gleeful exclamations, such as “no hitty, silly billy,” they inject a much-needed sense of fun and eccentricity into the film.

However, the film is weighed down by the subplot involving the Whelan family. Their characters are unfortunately cliché, and their dialogue often feels forced and cringeworthy. This storyline becomes a slog to endure, lacking both humor and genuine thrills. Additionally, the performances across the board, with some exceptions, fail to leave a lasting impact. Douglas Booth’s portrayal of Jamie, in particular, feels miscast as the timid and conflict-avoidant husband.

A Missed Opportunity

Director Jon Wright, known for his success in the comedy-horror genre with films like Grabbers (2012), falls short with Unwelcome. While it has moments that puzzle and briefly amuse, it struggles to truly entertain. The film fails to fully embrace its potential as a comedic folk horror. It’s difficult to shake the feeling that the Far Darrig could have carried the film on their own, with greater emphasis on the folk horror element and John-Kamen’s compelling exploration of the woods. A more focused approach could have allowed the film to thrive and invite laughter rather than unintentionally elicit it.

Despite its shortcomings, Unwelcome demonstrates Jon Wright’s skill in creating unique and visually striking creatures. The Far Darrig deserve a better platform to showcase their captivating nature, as they possess the potential to anchor a much stronger film that fully embraces their whimsical and unhinged traits. Unfortunately, in its current form, Unwelcome doesn’t fully deliver on its promises, leaving audiences yearning for more.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Unwelcome a horror film or a comedy?

Unwelcome can be best described as a blend of horror and comedy. While it attempts to balance these genres, the result is a somewhat muddled combination that doesn’t fully succeed in either aspect.

2. Are the Far Darrig the main focus of the film?

While the Far Darrig are a fascinating addition to the story, they share the spotlight with other plotlines involving the Whelan family and the couple’s personal struggles. The Far Darrig’s presence injects moments of excitement and entertainment, but their involvement could have been more central to enhance the overall experience.

3. What makes the Far Darrig stand out?

The Far Darrig are visually impressive and bring a refreshing level of whimsy to the film. With their mischievous behavior and distinct personalities, they add a touch of eccentricity that sets them apart from traditional creature depictions.

4. Does Unwelcome live up to its potential?

While Unwelcome has some enjoyable aspects, it ultimately falls short of its potential. The film’s varied genres and plotlines often clash, resulting in an uneven and occasionally confusing viewing experience. The moments of brilliance, particularly with the Far Darrig, highlight the unrealized potential for a more focused and compelling narrative.

5. Is it worth watching Unwelcome?

If you are a fan of unique creature designs and enjoy films that blend horror and comedy, Unwelcome may still be worth a watch. While it may not fully deliver on its promises, it offers moments of entertainment and showcases the director’s creativity in bringing fantastical creatures to life.