[Review] UNWELCOME: Redcaps Run Amok in Folk Horror Creature Feature

Director Jon Wright’s U.K. feature Unwelcome (2023) combines folk horror with creature feature elements, resulting in a fun chiller that ultimately heads toward some dark places, indeed. Bolstered by solid creature effects work and a loony third act, the film is well worth a watch.

Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) and Jamie (Douglas Booth) are a young couple that has been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby together. Soon after they receive good news from a home pregnancy test, they find themselves the victims of a violent home invasion. Wanting beforehand to leave the big city and its problems, they inherit a house in rural Ireland after the brutal attack they suffered. 

Local resident Maeve (Niamh Cusack) insists that the couple keep up the tradition that Jamie’s deceased aunt had of leaving meat out every night at a stone gate on the property, even offering to do it herself; the latter a request that the couple turns down. One unwise decision from the pair follows another, as they unwittingly hire a local family of no-goodniks, headed up by a man named Whelan who insists everyone call him Daddy (Colm Meaney), to make repairs on their home.

Maya and John should have listened to Maeve, as they find themselves dealing with Far Darrig, also known as redcaps — malevolent goblins who, in this case, have a taste for human flesh. Between the Far Darrig, the Whelan clan, and being parents to a newborn, the couple has a lot to deal with, making for a highly entertaining ride. The third act and the eerie climax are a blast.

Unwelcome inhabits an odd space, as it is humorous but not quite enough to be considered a horror comedy, and a horror movie that serves up few actual scares. It does deliver a good deal of tension, though, and Wright, who cowrote the screenplay with Mark Stay, balances the threats to Maya and John impressively. The six-person makeup department, which includes Redcap Prosthetics Coordinator Paula Anne Booker and Redcap Prosthetics Supervisor Shaune Harrison, has done superb work, as the evil diminutive creatures look fantastic. 

Unwelcome comes strongly recommended for fans of movies with little beasties wreaking gruesome havoc, while aficionados of folk horror should find plenty to enjoy, also.    

Unwelcome, from Well Go USA Entertainment, is currently available in theaters and On Digital. It debuts on Blu-ray and DVD on May 9, 2023.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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.