Review by Sean Boelman
There are some movies that are so wild that you just have to experience them for yourself. In fact, if you are reading this review of the new horror-comedy Unwelcome and have not seen it yet, I implore you: stop reading now and go watch it. It is that amazing, twisty work of genre cinema that we have all been clamoring to see.
The film follows a married couple who, after a tragic event in the city, decide to escape their urban nightmare in favor of a rural sanctuary in Ireland, only to find that their supposed safe haven might not be so safe after all. It’s a movie whose premise unfolds in unexpected ways and never truly reveals what it has in store until the extraordinarily satisfying third act.
One of the most surprising things about the film is how bleak and mean-spirited it can be. The opening sequence is one of the most uncomfortable and disturbing things to have been in a horror movie in quite a while. It sets a brutal, nihilistic tone that the rest of the movie attempts to match up to.
That being said, this opening sequence helps the film achieve one thing that so many in the genre attempt to do but hardly ever succeed at: making the audience immediately resonate with the characters. We are put immediately onto the side of the protagonist, even when they make some decisions that are somewhat frustrating.
Although Unwelcome never manages to hit the extraordinarily cruel and affecting nature of the opening sequence, it’s still quite effective at what it does. Especially in the final third, it morphs into a horror-comedy with a twisted sense of humor that is very reminiscent of several classics of the genre from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
From a technical level, the movie is a very nice blend between the campy and genuinely disturbing. The visual effects are exaggerated and over-the-top, particularly in the gnarly third act. But this is all against the sinisterly picturesque setting of an old cottage in rural Ireland, which is enough to send shivers down any viewer’s spine.
The acting in the film is also strong. Hannah John-Kamen and Douglas Booth are a great duo, with tremendous chemistry. John-Kamen is particularly impressive, playing a character that easily could have just sat back and reacted in a way that feels legitimately emotional. Colm Meaney is also quite good — and very menacing — in his role.
Unwelcome is a horror-comedy ride like few others. It’s entertaining, genuinely disturbing, and very funny — rarely all at the same time, but effective nonetheless. This is the type of genre cinema that deserves to be discovered.
Unwelcome hits theaters on March 8 and VOD on March 14.