Saturday, November 17, 2018

Welcome Home: Not Worth the Effort

It’s like 14 Cameras set in Umbria, but at least it comes with a better class of stalker-voyeurs. Cassie Ryerson and Bryan Palmer can’t decide whether they love or hate each other, so they will make-up their minds during a super-awkward Italian vacation, while the creepy Federico watches through spy cameras. However, he departs from his standard practices when he decides to take an active role in their drama in Welcome Home (trailer here), which is now playing in Brooklyn (just barely).

“Welcome Home” is the name of the up-scale Airbnb-like service on which this luxurious converted monastery was offered at a suspiciously low price. Like your mother used to say, if something is too good to be true, it must be a case of state-of-the-art voyeurism. Frankly, “Welcome Home” isn’t a good name for the online share site. “Be Our Guest” would make more sense, but maybe then Disney would have sued them back to the Etruscan age.

Be that as it may, things are bad between Ryerson and Palmer. On the night of a drunken office party, he caught her cheating on him with a sleazy co-worker. He had already been experiencing performance issues before that (TMI). Ever since, it has been like frozen tundra between them. Federico is not here to help. To be honest, he sort of really saves her when she twists an ankle on her morning jog, but he keeps coming around. Of course, Palmer immediately picks up on his bad vibes, but Ryerson just thinks he is jealous, which he is.

Lucky for Federico, the couple is drinking heavily and barely communicating, so it is rather easy for him to sow further dissension between them. Naturally, neither can speak Italian either. Plus, they are dumber than a bag full of hammers. Break up, stay together—whichever, just don’t have kids.

The Medieval vacation home really is a fab pad and the surrounding Umbria landscape is quite lovely, but, alas, the combination of Aaron Paul and Emily Ratajkowski is not about to make anyone forget Tracy & Hepburn or Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. On the other hand, Ricardo Scamarcio (Fosco in the latest Woman in White) clearly enjoys the villainous gamesmanship and generally gorging on the scenery.

This is the sort of film that lags days and weeks behind viewer intuition. Ratliff had no trouble lecturing viewers with films like Salvation Boulevard and the documentary Hell House, but apparently either thrilling or scaring them is beyond his reach. This is a dumb, flat film that isn’t worth the effort it would take to find it in theaters or the 93 minutes it takes to watch it via VOD. Not recommended, Welcome Home is now screening (once a night) at the Kent Theatre in Brooklyn (according to Google, but Fandango won’t give it the time of day).