Film Columnist | Samuel Mcloughlin
Welcome Home sees Emily Ratajkowski and Aaron Paul unite as damaged American couple Bryan and Cassie attempting to mend their broken relationship with an idyllic trip to the Italian countryside. However, things turn sinister when their mysterious neighbour wedges himself between them.
The story crawls to a start and the stilted and inorganic dialogue doesn’t help the time pass any quicker. Director George Ratcliff takes time to establish the broken dynamic between the couple, however, their issues and the neurosis that come with them end up feeling severely unexplored. Ratcliffe’s decision not to delve deeper into the couple’s relationship prior to arriving in Italy seems like a mistake. We are given little more than a snapshot of their troubled time together as the narrative is set almost entirely in their holiday home over just a few days. This, although aiding the immediacy of the film’s action leaves the characters, especially Cassie, feeling woefully two-dimensional. Even in the moments where we are evidently supposed to catch a glimpse of their relationship at its best, Bryan and Cassie’s interactions comes across somewhat inhuman.
The pace, however, does accelerate when the neighbour’s nefarious plot arises. During the final act of the film, Ratcliff demonstrates a talent for creating tension and forcing his audience to feel just as helpless as his characters. Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio plays the antagonistic role with merit, balancing a calm and calculating exterior with a suppressed primal malevolence.
While the central idea of the film is an interesting one, Ratcliff seems to clutter his story with a web of intersecting themes – love, jealousy, voyeurism – but never seems to entirely examine any of them with any depth. Other than convincing us never to stay in an Air BnB ever again, and providing a good mix of subtly eery chills and heart-racing thriller moments, Welcome Home delivers on little of the profound insight it promises.