Unwelcome (2023) Review: Extremely Welcome

Unwelcome is the kind of surprising film you roll out the welcome mat for

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Unwelcome 2023 Movie Review

What Is ‘Unwelcome’ About

Unwelcome takes place in a little town in rural Ireland, where young couple Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) and Jamie (Douglas Booth) have moved into a home they inherited from Jamie’s great-aunt. The timing couldn’t be better for them to get this new home.  Not only is Maya recently pregnant but her and Jamie need to get away from their old flat in London after they were attacked in their home by a gang of thugs. So getting away to a little country town sounds like it should be exactly what they need.

Unfortunately for Maya and Jamie, the house they inherited needs some major repairs and the only people around who are able to do that within their budget are the local Whelan family who are not exactly the nicest people. The three kids are cruel, break stuff, leave the toilet unflushed regularly and are just general assholes while the father insists on everyone calling him Daddy (Colm Meaney) and is an outrageously violent man, especially towards his own kids. The team makes the process of repairs a nightmare for Maya and Jamie who are sure things couldn’t be worse.

Oh, but it could get worse should Maya forget to follow through with the ritual that an old friend of Jamie’s great-aunt told them… that ritual being to leave a little bit of liver by a door in their backyard as an offering to the redcaps, short violent creatures who will attack anyone who goes in their woods. With all of these things slowly building up, it’s not long before all hell breaks loose around the young couple just trying their best to get a little peace.

RELATED: Is the return of Folk Horror here to stay?

Unwelcome Review

Unwelcome feels like it belongs in a different time, specifically in the early 80s at the start of the PG13 rating when people were testing the limits of what could be put in a family film. Obviously this is still a very adult film, complete with beheadings and disemboweling and enough swearing to fit in an average northern Irish dinner conversation but the tone fits right in with that strange period in time when stories could be somewhat aimed at families but with a more adult twist. 

It feels like they’re trying to tell a classic fairy tale, complete with the colour saturation turned up as bright as possible to make things seem just a little bit unreal but it works well. With the saturation turned up, it helps make some of the more over-the-top performances feel like they fit in this reality. It has that strange tone that a lot of folk horror has where the locals are just a little weirder than you might expect and the town feels like it morphs and grows as Unwelcome goes on, all of which works well here.

On top of a heightened colour palette, Unwelcome just has magnificent cinematography in general with fantastic use of its locations to help set the tension just right. The woods look almost too perfect, the practical sets look a little too idyllic and there are enough cleverly placed windows that there is a lot of scope for great surprise reveals for effective scares, which happens fairly consistently. It makes for a film that’s stunning to look at for the entire runtime, forcing you to just take in all the bright colours and the glorious practical effects.

RELATED: The Heathen Wilderness – A tour of American Folk Horror

Unwelcome 2023 Movie Still

What also really helps is that within the first five minutes, Unwelcome makes you fall head over heels for Maya and Jamie, wanting them to have their peace so they can have their baby in a healthy way and every time something unnerving happens to them you feel the pangs of pain. It’s got more than a few moments that really help build up their characters in a way that makes the film incredibly engaging from start to finish. 

Unwelcome Overall Review

Unwelcome is just a lot of fun, a slightly less intense Straw Dogs with a folk horror twist, complete with rejected Labyrinth Muppets and enough practical gore to please just about everyone. With a lot of fascinating characters, gorgeous visuals and one of the most badass mothers in modern horror cinema, Unwelcome is a welcome addition to any scary movie marathon you might be planning.

What Do You Think Of Unwelcome?

What did you think of this creature feature? Had you heard of Redcaps before?

Let us know on social media.

Unwelcome 2023 Movie Still

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