Unwelcome (2023) Review: I appreciate the simplicity of the main storyline in this movie. Two Londoners, Jamie (played by Douglas Booth) and Maya (played by Hannah John-Kmen), experience the joy of their first pregnancy and the terror of a break-in at their apartment on the same night. Soon, we see them escaping town to settle down in a small Irish village where Jamie’s aunt has left him a house.

After their traumatic experience, it is obvious that the couple wants to escape the hostility of the city. However, a kind neighbor warns them against upsetting the “little people” who live behind a door in their backyard and keep offering them some food every night. They invite the Whelans, a family of four, to help with the repairs of the roof.

Through a series of incidents, Jamie and Maya become subject to the brutish nature of the Whelans and the mischiefs of the “little people” while trying their best to keep the house from burning down and their unborn child from being harmed. Jon Wright’s movie is compelling to watch and blends in the folk horror elements in just enough amount to keep you from dismissing it. Unfortunately, the plot becomes overkill by the end of its runtime.

There is a constant juxtaposition between the nature of ‘welcome’ and ‘unwelcome’ guests throughout the movie that justifies the title. The opening scenes establish this in the best way possible. As Jamie and Maya are about to celebrate their labor of love and welcome the news of the baby with a mini celebration for the two, the break-in (an unwelcome act) threatens to rip apart the very cause of this celebration.

This dichotomy distributes itself evenly across the whole story. For example, the “little people” are among the many unwelcome presences in their new house until they rescue the couple in the face of a mortal threat. In another scene, when Jamie and Maya hit the local bar in the new town, their initial facial expressions betray their welcoming nature in the first place. Interestingly, both the humans and the “little people” are unwelcome in the lives of the couple. It is for the audience to judge which is the bigger threat of the two.

The film tends to club too many ideas into one. On the one hand, it is a home invasion movie that constantly reminds us of the littlest flicker that can endanger happy lives. On the other hand, it sets up a folk horror treat for the audience by its end. Unlike the Barbarian (2022), directed by Zach Creggar and easily one of the best horror movies from last year, it falters with direction and storytelling to give off an equally creepy vibe.

At one point, for example, a fire is set in one of the rooms of Jamie and Maya’s house, but no one puts it out. How is the house still standing tall by the end of the movie? I guess some elements of the plot may be considered just as unwelcome as the tilting camera angles in the course of the movie.

According to popular belief among horror fans, it is scintillating to keep the audience wondering about the supernatural power disrupting the protagonists. Here, the mystery is masked well until it isn’t anymore. The “little people” turn out to be Goblin-like creatures who are fancily robed in maroon and carry small knives when they wish to attack.

Once these creatures are introduced, the task is to keep the suspense churning. In this case, the folk horror elements appear too late in the movie, and by then, the suspense has been considerably watered down. I sincerely thought these “little people” were just arse-kicking guardian angels until the movie’s final moments.

Unwelcome (2023) isn’t a wholesome horror movie to watch, but it is just bizarre enough and has a decent number of jump scares to keep you going through it. More important ideas like domestic abuse, bullying, sexual violence, etc., are hinted at but never openly broached in the course of the film. I wish it distributed its attention to the two sections of the plot equally, but I don’t mind the popcorn horror elements of this one.

Read More: Unwelcome (2023) Movie Ending Explained: Why is Maya unharmed by Redcaps though she kills their queen?

Unwelcome (2023) Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
Unwelcome (2023) Cast: Hannah John-Kamen, Douglas Booth, Colm Meaney
Where to watch Unwelcome

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