April 30, 2023

UNWELCOME and the Bloodthirsty Little People

2022 / 104 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

After a violent home invasion in their London apartment, expectant young couple Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) and Jamie (Douglas Booth) move to a small Irish community where the latter has just inherited an old house from his late aunt. Though definitely a fixer-upper, it’s a seemingly idyllic place to raise their new family.

However, one of the locals warns them of the Redcaps, hungry little goblins who live beyond a stone wall in the nearby woods and require a ‘blood offering’ each day, generally in the form of raw meat. Though they initially dismiss the story as folklore, Maya promises to comply. Meanwhile, they hire the Whelan family - led by a patriarch (Colm Meaney) who insists on being called ‘Daddy’ - to fix up the house. At first, they’re simply obnoxious, but soon grow more threatening and violent.

Sure enough, the Recaps turn out to be real, though not quite as monstrous as the trailer for Unwelcome suggests. In fact, once the Whelans are established as the primary antagonists, these creatures are ready to dish out some really violent retribution at Maya’s behest, especially since Jamie is kind of a milquetoast. However, the Recaps’ protection doesn’t come without a price, which Maya may or may not be willing to pay.

"I come with the house."
Unwelcome is pretty meandering during the first act, and considering the premise, the whole thing could use a little more humor. But for the most part, it’s a decent little slab of folk horror. Maya is a resilient, sympathetic heroine, while husband Jamie is deliberately depicted as weak and unsympathetic. Meaney is malevolently amusing as Daddy, but the Whelan kids are borderline cartoonish, established almost too quickly as sneering, hateful bastards. No way would anyone in their right mind keep this family employed.

Still, we look forward to their comeuppance, and speaking of which, the movie certainly delivers the gore goods in a couple of wonderfully nasty scenes. The Redcaps themselves are neat little creations, an unholy cross between gremlins and leprechauns. Refreshingly, they’re rendered primarily through practical special effects.

The film sort of drops the ball during its somewhat perplexing climax by throwing in a late revelation related to Jamie’s aunt that, at this point, the story doesn’t really need. But overall, Unwelcome is a fairly enjoyable little creature feature worth checking out at least once.


FEATURETTES - Behind the Scenes; Making the Redcaps.


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