‘Welcome Home’ review: A terrifying and wildly entertaining thriller about a couple terrorized on a romantic getaway
Vacation rentals have become incredibly popular in the past five years, giving travelers a different, more personal option of lodging. Instead of your typical mainstream hotel, vacation rentals offer unique experiences like staying in a cottage or even a castle-like mansion. While this sounds like a dream, director George Ratliff decided to follow a less ideal narrative about a couple whose romantic getaway to the Italian countryside in a picturesque vacation rental turns into a fight for their lives.
Starring Aaron Paul and Emily Ratajkowski, ‘Welcome Home’ follows Bryan and Cassie, a couple on the brink of a breakup hoping a romantic trip will save their relationship. Due to Cassie’s infidelity, Bryan continues to struggle with the most important part of any relationship, trust. Ironically, it’s not Cassie he needs to worry about trusting, but the owner of their vacation rental that is secretly spying on them.
Soon after they arrive at their home for the week, Cassie and Bryan begin to fight, causing her to go for a run to blow off some steam. It’s then that Cassie meets the devilishly handsome but off-putting Federico (played by Riccardo Scamarcio), a supposed neighbor to their home for the week. The audience soon finds out that Federico has been spying on the couple from the second they arrived, watching their most intimate moments in a creepy underground hideout. Through hidden cameras placed both on the inside and exterior of the home, the oblivious couple becomes subject to every traveler’s nightmare.
For a primarily self-contained film with a small cast, ‘Welcome Home’ is ferociously entertaining and terrifyingly captivating. Ratliff’s use of hidden camera footage creates a very meta, visual narrative that really draws audiences in. Additionally, Ratliff’s use of long shots mixed with short, urgent cuts and subtly creepy music makes this a film that will keep audiences at the edge of their seats.
As far as the performances go, they were fantastic, especially Ratajkowski who was truly impressive in her first leading role. Paul was superb as always, creating layers to a character that is continuously having internal struggles he cannot properly process. However, the big surprise of the film was Scamarcio, whose performance was absolutely chilling and electric. With just a glance, Scamarcio brought subtle terror to the character of Federico exploring the dark and sinister sides of himself that he was hiding beneath the surface.
As if the film wasn’t terrifying enough, a twist ending leaves the audience with a lingering feeling of unsettled fear, making us think twice before foregoing a hotel for a vacation rental or trusting a seemingly friendly stranger. 'Welcome Home’ is available exclusively on DIRECTV until November 14th and will be released in theaters and On Demand on November 16th.