[Review] Unbidden [Nightmares Film Festival]: A Mysterious Boy Brings Terror to a Troubled Family

When a family unit has lost trust in one another, what remains to keep — and what might become of them under pressure? Writer/director Andrés Rothschild Pérez explores these questions in his taut horror short Unbidden (U.K., 2022). 

The film finds young Patrick (Tom Cross) on a weekend holiday in the country with his mother Shelly (Lily Howkins), father James (Nicholas Pople), and the family dog Bella. When Bella runs into the nearby woods but doesn’t return, the family goes searching but finds instead a boy (Owen Corder) around Patrick’s age. Behind the boy is a frightening entity which, among the family, only Patrick can see — but something that happened in the past causes the parents to think that his warnings are lies.

Pérez does a superb job of dropping cinematic breadcrumbs about the family’s past while steadily ramping up a sense of dread until horror strikes the trio. The cast members all give fantastic performances, with Cross giving a convincing turn as the frightened son, and Corder also doing fine work in a wordless role as the mysterious child. Cinematographer Aditya Sharma captures the splendid sylvan surroundings and the shocking turn of events inside the vacation house wonderfully, while Francesco Bondi provides a fittingly chilly score. 

Unbidden is a London film School student film, and Pérez shows enormous promise of a bright future ahead in filmmaking. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Unbidden screened as part of Nightmares Film Festival, which took place in Columbus, Ohio from October 20th–23rd, 2022. For more information, visit https://nightmaresfest.com/.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.