An unwelcome horror

This Irish folk horror has a great cast but it is let down by the use of too many tired cinema clichés – and it just isn’t scary, says Times Movie Reviewer Matthew Dann


THE synopsis of this new horror flick is very straightforward – a couple flee an urban nightmare for the peace and tranquility of the Irish countryside.

Having been left a house by a relative, the pair relocate to a setting of country scenery and fresh air, and look forward to a fresh start away from the urban jungle.

Yet peace and tranquility do not last long, as they soon discover that there are malevolent beings – ‘the redcaps’ (these are no leprechauns, but Irish goblins) – living in the woods at the bottom of their garden.

I have to say that this was actually a hard film for me to review. Normally there is a good story or good characters, something that keeps me invested throughout.

This film had none of that. What starts as a horror then tries to blend in comedy and general silliness.

Unfortunately, the comedy misses the mark and it feels as though the director had no idea what type of film he wanted to make.

This film is really a story of two halves.

The first half is ok. There is a tension that builds and a story that develops, moving at a good pace. You get a general sense that the film could be going somewhere interesting.

The problem is it’s not at all frightening – and there are also a lot of old movie tropes thrown into this film which, for me, made it feel cheap and nasty. When done right, a folk tale can both properly scare and entertain. This was not done right.

In the second half, the film just capitulates. The malevolent beings are revealed – and they just seem tawdry, as does the plot.

By the end, you can’t help but feel relieved the film has ended.

The main characters – Maya and Jamie, played by Hannah John-Kamen and Douglas Booth respectively – are average at best and during the course of the film they somehow appeared to get worse.

The other actors were sadly just as dreary. Even screen legend Colm Meaney couldn’t save this film, and I was surprised to see Kristian Nairn (Hodor from Game of Thrones) and Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (who most viewers would recognise from Derry Girls).

Again, both of these actors were frankly quite poor. It was a shame, as this could have been a brilliant low-budget horror.

I am sure that Unwelcome will find an audience somewhere, and of course I would urge you to see the film for yourself to make up your own mind.

However, for me, this was a film that I could have easily have gone without seeing.

I saw Unwelcome at the Odeon, Tunbridge Wells.

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