Filmmaker Jon Wright, whose previous film Grabbers was also disappointing, can’t seem to muster the wherewithal to give his creature feature movies the proper amount of gore, humor, and buildup, and his latest here is perhaps his most disappointing because it had the most promise.
A couple expecting a baby moves out of a gentrified area in London when they inherit a cottage in Ireland, but instead of peace and harmony, they run into some serious problems … including the enchanted race of little folk who live in the woods nearby.
Jamie (Douglas Booth) and Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) have it rough in a newly gentrified block of London where thugs still creep around looking for trouble. Maya has just found out she’s pregnant, and when some hooligans break into their apartment and beat Jamie senseless and threaten to rape and beat Maya, their nightmare has seemingly reached its crescendo, but when that ordeal passes, they get a stroke of good fortune: Jamie’s aunt passes away and he inherits her plot of land in Ireland, which includes a lovely cottage and garden. When they get there, they are flabbergasted at their good luck, but a sweet old lady neighbor immediately begins insisting that they leave out a “blood offering” – i.e. bits of liver or meat – in a little doorway that connects their land to the sprawling woods beyond on a nightly basis to appease the “little folk,” or the Red Caps, as they are known. This request baffles and amuses both Jamie and Maya, who shrug it off, but when a local boozer disappears one night on the way home from the pub, the nosy neighbor comes back and much more urgently insists that they begin leaving an offering immediately if they don’t want trouble from the enchanted little people who aren’t the cute little Leprechauns of the fairy stories, but hungry monsters who will invade the town and cause havoc if not appeased. When Jamie and Maya hire some day laborers from a nearby village (who slouch, smoke weed when they should be working, and are generally quite dangerous low class trash who will ruin Jamie and Maya’s lives if they aren’t kept in check), an unfortunate encounter between Maya and one of the workers climaxes with a Red Cap killing the lecherous creep, which throws Maya for a loop. The Red Caps – toothy goblins with an assortment of sharp weapons – are real, and they will be coming back for payment. With her newborn baby the exact currency the Red Caps are looking for, Maya and Jamie must quickly navigate the malevolent creatures who come calling, but in the mix are the other day laborers (whose patriarch is played by the menacing Colm Meaney), which means there will be plenty of collateral damage when the Red Caps begin to invade the area.
Shockingly unpleasant and not nearly as fun as it easily could’ve been, the nondescriptly titled Unwelcome should have focused on the creature feature aspect much sooner than later because it simply fails as it relies on its unappealing characters – even the protagonists – who can’t catch a break in life. They curse, whine, and whimper, and the husband character played by Booth is a wimp and a pushover when it comes to protecting his woman, which is totally not relatable from where I’m sitting. Kamen is clearly the stronger character, but she’s still not likable, and the violence when it comes is blunt and bloody, which offsets the dull momentum of the movie. Filmmaker Jon Wright, whose previous film Grabbers was also disappointing, can’t seem to muster the wherewithal to give his creature feature movies the proper amount of gore, humor, and buildup, and his latest here is perhaps his most disappointing because it had the most promise.
Well Go USA’s new release of Unwelcome comes in either a Blu-ray or a DVD package, and bonus features include a behind the scenes feature, a making of feature that details how they made the Red Caps, and the trailer.