Watch the trailer for importunate
How far would you go to protect your family? That’s the question at the heart of Unwelcome, a new creature feature from Jon Wright, the director of cult genre thrillers Grabbers and Robot Overlords – in UK cinemas from 27 January.
The family in question are Maya (Hannah John-Kamen) and Jamie (Douglas Booth), a young couple expecting their first child, who jump from a nightmarish urban frying pan into the fire of a new house in Ireland. Their dream home is soon attacked by an ancient malevolent presence lurking in the woods deep in their garden.
The film began with a conversation between Wright and his writing collaborator Mark Stay. They struggled with the dichotomy of what it means to be a pacifist in times of threat.
“If our families, our children were threatened, we would do something violent to save them,” Wright told Yahoo.
“The more we talked about it, the more we realized that we could potentially be extremely violent, because – as non-violent people – we would want this violence to come to a very abrupt and quick conclusion. We thought this contradiction was really interesting.
The source of the threat in Unwelcome is goblins, or more specifically redcaps (and definitely NOT pixies, despite the setting). “It’s an old myth and legend that you have in many different cultures,” says Wright. “It’s in Ireland but you also have it in England too. They are goblins who dip their caps in the blood of their victims.
“We liked this a lot because it went against the stereotype of the goblin, or the idea of friendly garden gnomes. They are horrible goblins. They are the violence of the story.
Bringing together the Grabbers’ acclaimed creature team, including prosthetics by Shaune Harrison, creature designs by Paul Catling and visual effects supervisor Paddy Eason, Wright’s vision for Unwelcome is a thrill for practical effects fans. in the age of CG.
Here he breaks down the trailer exclusively for Yahoo.
“It really is a brilliant reference, but only for nerds,” Wright says of the trailer’s foreground that mirrors Torrance’s drive to the Lookout at the start of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic.
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“But yellow is also the color of cowardice, which is the color of Maya. She has a yellow dress, they drive a yellow car…”
“The film is an amalgamation of large stages we built in the UK and Irish exteriors,” Wright tells us. “So it’s a house that we built, but it’s based on extensive research into that particular style of architecture that you get in rural Ireland, which has a very specific look.”
The sound stages were built at RAF Bovingdon in Hertfordshire, which in recent years has hosted TV’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Rogue One and Dancing on Ice.
“Because of Covid, all the companies that would normally build stages for concerts were out of work, and we asked one of those companies to take a piece of track and put a huge concert stage on it. It was an absolutely giant step. It was huge. Much bigger than we would normally have been able to afford.
The young couple
“They’re a fish out of water,” Wright said. “They normally wouldn’t have taken such a big leap to get around in the middle of nowhere, but they have a violent encounter at the very beginning of the movie. It’s an extremely violent encounter that terrifies them to such an extent that when the opportunity to move into this house that Jamie inherits from his aunt presents itself, they seize it.
“For the most part everyone in the village is lovely to them and very welcoming and they have a great time, but they fall into a family they shouldn’t be dealing with. And it’s a pretty dangerous family.
“Hannah really impressed me in this movie,” says Wright. “I knew she was a good actress but she really exceeded my expectations with this movie. I think she’s absolutely amazing in it.
“It’s interesting because it’s a horror movie, but inside she gives a very nuanced, layered and interesting performance.”
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Rising star Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and The Wasp, SAS Red Notice) plays Maya, a heavily pregnant woman who comes under increasing threat from the Redcaps as the film progresses.
“She is very close to due date, she is not far from giving birth when they arrive in Ireland. So that’s part of it: ‘what am I going to do to take care of my unborn child?’ »
“There were two things we wanted to show (in Unwelcome) that we thought you didn’t see very often in the movies, and one was an extremely pregnant woman, especially as the heroine.”
“The other thing is that Douglas Booth plays a coward,” adds the director. “As a man, as an actor, he’s really been very brave because he’s playing the truth about what it’s like to be a coward.
“What you see all the time in the movies, especially now that we’re in the superhero phase, you see people stepping up to the challenge and saying ‘go for it’ and being very stoic and tough on aggression. . What you don’t see is what feels more like real life, which is people freaking out completely and losing their shit and not being able to cope when faced with the violence. And that’s basically what happens to Doug’s character. He is very afraid.
“And Doug plays the truth of that in a very honest and realistic way. He looks like a leading man, but he has the soul of a character actor.
As the trailer shows, the house the couple inherits needs work, so the couple recruits a family of local hoodlums to help with the repairs. However, their relationship deteriorates, adding fuel to the fire.
“Colm (Meaney) is a builder and the patriarch of this dysfunctional family, and Colm is just like me,” Wright says. “He was at the top of a pretty short list of people who I think would be believable in this role. He brings gravity. He also plays a villain in his own right. He’s normally quite charming and likable.
The red caps
Only briefly glimpsed in the trailer, the Redcaps are causing chaos at the heart of Unwelcome. A primitive and malevolent force that begins to wreak havoc on the young family. Like Gremlins, which has an obvious influence on the film, the creatures were done practically with a combination of puppets and visual effects, to make them more viscerally terrifying.
“Sometimes in movies these days, the creatures are done in full CGI, and when you see them running and jumping, you can see the gravity isn’t quite right, and sometimes they just don’t seem like everything. just not quite right,” Wright diplomatically explains. .
“The original pitch when we released the film was a modern take on Gremlins meets Straw Dogs. Gremlins was therefore very present in my thoughts. But the Redcaps take gleeful pleasure in committing acts of violence. They don’t apologize. They have no conscience about it. It’s part of their culture, it’s what they do.
“Particularly in the last third of the movie, the Redcaps go wild. It all gets very crazy and intense. Something people told me when they saw the movie – in a positive way – ‘I like it, but my god it’s so violent!
“But in a fun, fun way!”
It sounds like a perfect combination in our books.
Junk is in theaters from January 27.