Movie Review: Unwelcome (2022)

April 29, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Maya (Hannah John-Kamen, whom you may remember from 2018’s superhero romp Ant-Man and the Wasp, but she’s been in an ass-load of other cool stuff) and Jamie (Douglas Booth) are more than ready to get the fuck out of Dodge after being accosted by thugs, so off they trot to the safety and serenity of the Irish countryside where absolutely nothing can ever go wrong.

Once there they move into the home bequeathed to J-Dawg by his recently croaked aunt… but the country home comes with a warning; honor the old ways and pay tribute to the mysterious Redcaps rumored to haunt the land every day, or there will be unspecified static heading their way!

Of course our heroes forget that shit Day fuckin’ One, and the town drunk is spirited away by those creepy Caps… but of course the body-count doesn’t stop there and before you can say “Guinness” our protagonists are up to their asses in goblins, psychotic contractors, and corpses!

Coming from writer/director Jon Wright and co-writer Mark Stay, Unwelcome is an effective folk-horror-lite/neo-fairy tale offering featuring strong acting, a distinct visual style, and a score of memorable monsters… let’s break that down a bit further, shall we?

While an ensemble piece for sure, the spotlight falls squarely on John-Kamen who presents a strong yet vulnerable heroine in the form of Maya; a woman unafraid to head into the deep, dark woods around her property to search for mythical beings, while still managing to babysit her rather milquetoast beau, all while being extremely pregnant.

Add in a terror-inducing performance by Colm Meaney as Daddy Whelan, the local handyman/father to a brood of delinquents who’s ranks include Kristian Nairn (Game of Thrones‘ Hodor), and a delightfully ridiculous turn from Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, and you have some rock-solid acting on display.

All of these players have quite the stage in Unwelcome, which features effective use of the scenic Irish countryside and surrounding village, often shot in beautiful “Golden Hour” lighting photography, but the picture truly shines when exteriors are stage-bound; making everything exceedingly more surreal in a gloriously Nobuhiko Ôbayashi/Hausu kind of way!

As for the non-human antagonists, they are a damn impressive lot and are brought to life via creative use of practical creature suits, forced perspective, over-sized sets, CG augmentation, and puppetry. It’s all incredibly imaginative, and realized perfectly!

Adding to the positives present in this Blu-ray release from Well Go USA Entertainment are a few choice extras which include a brief chat with the film’s creators on just how Unwelcome came to be, a look at the creation of the Redcaps, and the film’s trailer.

To put a beastly bow on it all, Unwelcome is a suitably dark, modern Grimm’s Fairy Tale filled with mystical beings, gloriously psychotronic flashes of fever-dream madness, and plenty of blood-soaked violence and should appeal to fans of Gremlins and Guillermo Del Toro alike!


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