Film: Unwelcome (2023)
Director: Jon Wright
Starring: Hannah John-Kamen, Douglas Booth
Genre: Folk Horror/Creature Feature
Why You Should Watch It:
A young couple inherits a fixer-upper house in the country. The young couple doesn’t listen to the warnings of their new neighbors and townspeople. Bad shit happens. We’ve all seen this movie before, right? Think again.
In Unwelcome we follow Londoner’s Maya (Hanna John-Kamen) and Jamie (Douglas Booth) as they struggle to start over again in the aftermath of a home invasion. Maya is newly pregnant with their first child when the couple discovers that they have inherited the home of Jamie’s late aunt. Even better, the house is in Ireland, far far away from their busy, dangerous apartment in the city. Sure, there’s a hole in the roof, and the friendly neighbor lady says they need to lay out raw liver for the little people every night, but other than that, their new house in the country is a real gem!
One of the things I liked most about this film was that the true monsters were humans. Maya and Jamie can’t escape the feeling of being unsafe, and - surprise, surprise - have to call on the help of the little people, or the Redcaps. Of course, asking these creepy little guys for a favor comes at a price. If you know your Irish folklore then you’ll be familiar with Redcaps, a leprechaun-like monster. These vicious little creatures take the shape of stabby forest elves with sharp teeth and a taste for human flesh and might even snatch your baby.
The character design of the Redcaps wasn’t too bad and gave the film a sort of fun, campy appeal similar to movies from the 80s and 90s (Troll, Ghoulies, Leprechaun). I would have liked a little bit of comedy and maybe a few more WTF moments to take this movie up a notch or two. This is not a film that takes itself seriously, but still tells a fun and engaging story under two hours. There was lots of blood and guts and violence and it’s free to watch on Shudder. What more could you want?
Unwelcome puts a creepy, folksy, creature feature spin on the tired something's-not-right-with-the-house trope. If you’re looking for a fun and folksy film to kick off your spooky season viewing, pop some popcorn and give Unwelcome a watch!