FILM REVIEW: Welcome Home

There’s an insidious undertone at the end of Welcome Home implying that by renting a property through Airbnb, you’re essentially opening yourself to an online cabal of voyeuristic peeping toms that want nothing more than to see you in all your naked man-boobied glory, taking a shower or swimming in a pool. Or murdering someone. Perhaps the writer of this B-movie thriller had an abysmal experience with Airbnb once and instead of writing a rambling, deranged negative comment on TripAdvisor, decided to write a script about it instead. Whatever the inspiration, the writer likes showers. Loves showers. There’s so many shower scenes in Welcome Home that they should have renamed the film, ‘Welcome Home: The Luffa Sponge Reckoning.’

My reaction whenever I see a spider

Bryan (Aaron Paul) and Cassie (Emily Ratajkowski) rent a beautiful, romantic villa in the Italian countryside using a home-sharing website called Welcome Home. Soon after settling in, (Cassie has a shower) it becomes apparent that this relationship is fractured – Cassie cheated on Bryan during a work shindig and he’s having a hard time trusting her and being intimate. Desperate to reignite the spark in their crumbling relationship but plagued by thoughts of Cassie sleeping with her co-worker, arguments soon occur and Cassie goes out for a run, befriending Italian Federico (Riccardo Scamarcio), the kind, handsome stranger who lives just down the road. (I believe there’s another shower scene around here). Bryan is instantly threatened by Federico’s good looks, and Federico uses this jealousy to ingratiate himself with the couple, manipulating them into turning against each other.

There’s been many films with the ‘creepy-neighbour/roommate,’ trope before (Lakeview TerracePacific HeightsSingle White Female), but Welcome Home doesn’t really offer anything new to the genre. It’s not a bad film, by any means – it’s just that you’ve seen it all before. With any thriller, filmmakers must realise that the audience are going to try and second guess what’s going to happen onscreen: it’s part of the reptilian side of how our brains are hardwired – so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Federico is spying on the couple through hidden cameras in the villa early on. It’s also not much of a reveal later in the film that he’s been essentially living under the house instead of on another property.

well heeeeeello ladies…

The only real revelation comes at the very end of the film, but it just leaves the viewer with a sense that you’ll be checking behind mirrors and garden gnomes next time you rent a property for a holiday. It all smacks of a wasted opportunity, as there could have been some interesting directions the movie could have taken. The relationship between Bryan and Cassie could have taken a darker turn than it did, and we never really find out much of Frederico’s story. He just usually likes to watch people in the shower, apparently. The characters are thinly constructed – a couple of times Bryan flicks a lid of an engagement ring box (whilst Cassie is in the shower) so he wants to commit and marry her, but the way the film portrays this is with menacing music. Why? Aaron Paul is a capable actor and has the whole inner turmoil thing down expertly, but he’s not given much here to push his abilities to the next level. Emily Ratajkowski (Gone Girl) doesn’t fare much better – Cassie is defined by her cheating and there’s nothing else to her at all, apart from the end when she goes on a bit of a murderous rampage. (In-between showering, of course.) Riccardo Scamarcio flits between smooth and charming to creepy, but there’s not much else for him to showcase.

As Winter starts creeping in and the radiators are being switched on for the first time this year, Welcome Home may entertain if you’re stuck for something to watch on a cold night alone, but for fans of the ‘home invasion/creepy neighbour’ setting, there’s other more inspired films that will likely see you through.

Review by Anthony Self

Welcome Home is available on VOD from 12th November
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