Remember the erotic thrillers of the early 1990s? Well, ‘Welcome Home’ attempts to join that circle, but instead establishes a somewhat tasteless, yet entertaining thriller.
The opening titles of ‘Welcome Home’ intercutting with a property rental website, soon presents the extraordinarily annoying couple, Bryan and Cassie, played by Aaron Paul (the other guy from ‘Breaking Bad’) and Emily Ratajkowski (‘Gone Girl’) respectively, arriving in the Italian countryside. After initially passing a suspicious-looking house, when Bryan and Cassie do arrive at a luxurious rental house, they immediately sleaze things up and attempt to engage in a fruitful experience of the Italian countryside, though Bryan’s sexual frustration and hesitation prevents any actual sex. In the limited neighbourhood, however, there is also Federico; played magnificently by Riccardo Scamarcio of ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’. Quite mysterious, Federico tries his best to help Bryan and Cassie settle in for their stay, though Bryan is hesitant of another man getting rather too helpful.
Far from a being a major studio’s franchise movie, ‘Welcome Home’ presents an image quality of a weaker Netflix product, TV-movie or direct-to-video release – its independent status is quite clearly replicated. Be not afraid, though, as the cheap look doesn’t prevent an eventually entertaining and frightening story from being shown. Weirdly, however, there is a serious lack of a musical score – only in overly dramatic actions is there an instance of a score. Don’t expect a soundtrack album on Spotify!
…But seriously. The presentations of sexual acts, sexual insecurity and so on are, at times, tasteless and disturbing, whereas the classics ‘Fatal Attraction’ and ‘Basic Instinct’ were edgy and dangerous, and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is just tacky. Additionally, the instances of voyeurism within ‘Welcome Home’ are impressive, and adds an intellectual layer to this film, though the impressive nature then feels somewhat hollow when one notices the obvious parallels with ‘Sliver’. In tastelessness for modern times, ‘Welcome Home’ completely champions the ‘Male Gaze’ and as a result of that, Emily Ratajkowski is more of a glamour model than actress. Shamefully, the character of Cassie is far from either being likeable or moralistic – there are no establishing reasons whatsoever to like her, unless you like the presentation of her body.
Bryan is annoying, very annoying. As ‘Welcome Home’ develops, however, there is a growing notion of sympathy for Bryan as he is clearly dealing with a deep mental trauma of which he cannot escape when he wishes to be at his intimate best with his partner Cassie. Sadly, there is an overwhelming lack of character depth or general interest in Bryan, as all he seems to have is sex on his mind, whether he fails (again) to make love to Cassie or masturbates on a couch.
Whilst the notion of hapless romance is far from being new, ‘Welcome Home’ does have its semi-forced inclusions of contemporary aspects, such as a frequent amount of social media and text message occurrences, and the reveal by Cassie that, “We met on Tinder.” The inclusion of this comedic line, much to the displeasure of Bryan, establishes the intended audience for ‘Welcome Home’ – an audience likely to be familiar with ‘Breaking Bad’.
Ultimately, ‘Welcome Home’ will most likely offend its young adult audience too and viewers in general probably. In the aftermath of #MeToo, is a selection of the content really appropriate right now on screen (if ever)? No. ‘Welcome Home’ is a seriously perverse and uncomfortable viewing at times, though as a thriller, it can be quite good despite the weird attempt at making a complete joke of itself in the third act. Director George Ratliffe (‘Joshua’) will face ridicule for what he has delivered, though the most interesting thing about ‘Welcome Home’ will be his answer(s) to the question: Why?
Written by Dominic Hastings
Rating – 6/10
Question: What is your favourite erotic thriller?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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Thanks to Strike Media for screening access.
‘Welcome Home’ is available on VoD from 12th November.