Welcome Home (2018)
Aaron Paul as Bryan Palmer
Emily Ratajkowski as Cassie Ryerson
Riccardo Scamarcio as Federico
Francesco Acquaroli as Eduardo
Budget $NO DATA Box Office $331,704
IMDb 5.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 11% Metacritic 38%
It’s been a long time since I gave the ending to something in a review for you guys. But I can’t fully review this movie and have it make sense unless I can address the whole movie. Therefore, this review contains spoilers. You have been warned.
We start with what appears to be a young couple in love. The girlfriend, Cassie, has booked a romantic retreat vacation for the two of them in a remote luxurious refurbished monastery surrounded by a luscious award-winning vineyard. The perfect blend of romance and rustic that is sure to inspire the kind of wining and dining most women dream of.
On their way to their dream spot the cabbie first takes them to this somewhat rundown and distressed looking house. At first, they are thinking they got conned. That or Cassie made a mistake. They ask the cab driver as nicely and politely as they can if he’s sure they are at the right place. He checks his GPS and then starts driving off, filling the couple with a sense of relief.
So, they get to the house. It’s huge. Gigantic. It’s well furnished, well decorated and very well stocked. The owner of the house has left them a very nice bottle of wine, two glasses and a small note telling them to please treat the house as their own and to enjoy their stay. The owner says he is just a town away if they need anything at all.
They are excited by all the lavishness bestowed upon them for their stay and they decide to christen the all wood dining room table within minutes of walking in the door. That’s when we find out that this happy little couple isn’t as together as they appear.
The boyfriend, Bryan, apparently caught Cassie having drunken Christmas or New Year’s sex with a co-worker. Now, every time he tries to sleep with his lady all he can picture in his head is her having sex with this guy Justin, which is seriously affecting their sex-life as a couple. It’s like Bryan can’t perform anymore. Cassie’s cheating was a major blow to his ego and it seems that this is a pure example that mind really is over matter.
Repeatedly frustrated after a number of failed attempts at romance their first night there, Cassie goes to bed angry and Bryan ends up nosing around the homeowners record and book collection. He finds a book on Eros, the Greek god of love, and soon begins to pleasure himself to the graphic images depicted in the book. Then he starts to fantasize about his girlfriend and finishes himself off. After that, he passes out on the couch.
Here’s the kicker. This is where we see that there are hidden cameras in the house. In fact, all over the house. Someone…is watching.
When Cassie gets up in the morning, she sees Bryan on the couch and gets frustrated again. She makes some breakfast for herself, leaves him a plate and a note and goes for a run. (People exercise while on vacation???? Okay….)
While on this run, she, of course, falls and sprains an ankle. Hobbling down the road on her way back to the house a local in a pickup truck stops to play Good Samaritan. He introduces himself as Federico and gives Cassie a ride back to the house.
Cassie introduces the two men, of course Bryan is immediately insecure about another man honing in on his non-territory territory. Federico is a good-looking young man, quiet, athletic and healthy looking, Italian. He seems a little awkward around Cassie and Bryan. At least, at first. Trying to create small talk Cassie brings up to Bryan that Federico lives in the house they accidentally went to before they arrived at the vacation house.
During the conversation, Federico offers to give them a ride into town, recommending a market there. Though Cassie is excited at the idea of exploring and thankful for the offer, Bryan is not so accepting and tries to refuse the generosity. After some back and forth, it is settled that they will take the ride, however much it is against Bryan’s many protests.
Federico drops them off in town later that day and Cassie very kindly thanks him for the ride. He points out a few points of interest and Bryan basically says that they have it from there and shuts the door on Federico. This infuriates Cassie and Bryan, of course, starts hurling insult after insult about how she just can’t help but open herself up to guys and implying that she basically welcomes men’s advances and such. This sends her into a whole new realm of pissed and she storms off to go back to the house and he storms off to go get drunk.
Cassie tries to get a cab but she needs cash so she tells the cabbie to wait while she hits the ATM right across the street. But she’s so upset she’s having trouble getting through the prompts. Lucky for her Federico shows up and once again, saves the day. He puts her in the cab and she goes to the house.
Then we see Bryan in a bar. Next thing he knows Federico is there and buying him a drink, trying to be cordial. So, Bryan figures he might as well at least be nice. Over a few hours, not only does Federico get Bryan completely sloppy drunk, he also gets him talking about his problems with Cassie and their relationship, such as her cheating. Bryan starts running off at the mouth about how he’s thought about cheating on Cassie and how he wishes he could just so she could see what it felt like to have those images in her head every time she looked at him, just like he does when he looks at her. Lo and behold, a couple of attractive women walk into the bar and what do ya know, they know Federico.
They sit down and start drinking with the guys and talking…flirting. Poor Cassie is calling Bryan but she’s not getting ahold of him. While the girls are getting all up close and personal with Bryan, Federico is still feeding Bryan alcohol, some of it laced with some drug of some sort. At the end of the night, the girls help Bryan to a hotel room that they all share for the night…and there’s video on his cell of it. The next morning, he wakes up and has no idea what happened. He grabs a cab and goes back to the house.
Once again Cassie and Bryan have an argument and Bryan tells her he doesn’t want Federico coming around anymore. He tells her nothing of what happened the night before. Only that he doesn’t like the guy and that he doesn’t want him there. He also tells her he thinks he lost his phone because he can’t find it anywhere. He tried to go to the bar to look for it when he woke up but bars aren’t open in the morning usually so, no luck. Afterwards, he leaves to go for a walk.
Two things happen while he is on this stroll. First, Bryan finds out that no one is living in the house Federico claims to be his home. Second, Federico shows up at the vacation house door with a dead rabbit in hand, determined to make rabbit stew for the two of them for dinner. Cassie and Federico prepare the stew while Bryan is out walking. When he returns, he is less than thrilled not only to see this man sitting at the table with his girlfriend but also that they seem to be getting along famously. In fact, Federico has apparently been telling Cassie about the previous night…but not everything. What fun would that be?
They have dinner and during their meal, Bryan and Federico go back and forth in a boxing match of semantics and insults, toeing the line but not quite crossing it. Saying just enough that if you know all the details you know what he’s talking about but, if you are on the outside it seems like regular conversation that has an awkward tense vibe.
After dinner, Bryan walks Federico to the door and tells him not to return. He then turns to Cassie and they have a quick exchange in which he thinks she’s going to push back on the issue but instead she agrees that dinner was weird and that she’s not comfortable with Federico coming around anymore either. Bryan locks the doors and places a call to the owner, leaving a voicemail about the strange neighbor of his that is bothering them and that they thought he should be aware.
This leads to the two of them having an emotional moment together and they start to make up. Cassie tells Bryan to give her ten minutes, get some wine from the wine cellar and meet her upstairs in the bedroom. She goes upstairs to get herself ready and he goes to the wine cellar.
Once in the wine cellar, the door suddenly closes behind him and locks. He’s stuck down there and can’t get out.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Cassie hears music being put on and comes out of the bathroom into the bedroom. She sees one of her bras and a pair of her underwear laying on the bed with a satin blindfold and a note. The note instructs her to put the items on and wait. She does so.
So, Cassie is there sitting on the side of the bed in full view of one of the hidden cameras. Then we see Federico enter the room. He begins to, shall we say, gently dominate Cassie and start to kiss and caress her body. Now remember, she’s blindfolded. So, she thinks this is Bryan doing all this to her.
At the same time, Bryan is in the cellar trying to figure out a way to free himself. He finds a secret door behind the wine racks. It leads to a tunnel. Of course! Tunnels! It’s an old monastery. Why wouldn’t there be tunnels for easy hiding and escape? He finally finds a way out and comes up through a pantry or linen closet of sorts on the main floor of the house. When he does, he makes some noise. This scares Federico away. But not before he takes the time to leave Bryan’s phone behind in the bed for Cassie to find.
When she finds it, she finds messages from the girls from the night before and the video of Bryan having sex with them. At the same time she’s finding this out, Bryan is finding the fresh video of Federico licking and pawing all over his girlfriend and her obviously getting turned on by it.
Now the both of them are pissed as all get out. They find each other in the house and immediately start yelling at each other. As the quarrel escalates, Cassie throws her phone at Bryan. She misses him and hits a large mirror on the wall. That’s when THEY become aware that the house has hidden cameras all over the place.
This is when things go sideways…for EVERYBODY. Cassie and Bryan start freaking out because they realize Federico has been watching them the whole time. Federico realizes he’s been discovered and goes to the house to confront his victims. During this confrontation, he admits that he is watching them and he just couldn’t help himself from interfering, Cassie was too beautiful. A fight ensues and, in the struggle, Cassie beats Federico to death with a cane. Aware that everything they’ve just done was caught on video, they decide that they must hide the body and destroy the video evidence and the cameras.
But, then there’s a knock at the door. They don’t answer but someone lets themselves in the house through a side door. The owner. Eduardo.
After a brief exchange with Eduardo, Bryan is unable to convince him that this pesky neighbor is no longer a problem. Eduardo wants to check the house, just to make sure everything is okay. While he is looking around, Cassie and Bryan go to the room where the body of Federico is and panic. Meanwhile, Eduardo makes his way through the tunnels to the little room where all the video screens are that Federico watched Cassie and Bryan on. Now it’s clear, he’s in on it.
Eduardo goes back upstairs. He comes up on Cassie and starts talking to her. He takes his jacket off and covers the hidden camera in the front hallway that captures where they are at that moment. He then begins to slowly advance towards her, gun in his hand pointed at her, asking her what she did. As she continues to assert she did nothing, he continues to advance. Behind him, Bryan is sneaking up with the cane in his hands, ready to strike. Just as Eduardo is about to attack Cassie, her eyes clue him into Bryan’s position. He turns the gun to Bryan and Cassie stabs him with some object she grabbed that was close. He falls. Bryan hits him multiple times with the cane. Eduardo drops the gun. Cassie grabs the gun and is going to shoot Eduardo but, Bryan takes it from her and does it for her.
They spend many hours afterwards cleaning up the house, burying the bodies and destroying the cameras and video equipment.
Once it is all over, the two lovebirds decide to take a shower. Trying to wash away their sins, their guilt, the blood and dirt, who knows? This time though, Bryan IS able to perform.
Cassie asks him if he got all the cameras. He tells her that he’s pretty sure he did but that he also destroyed the hard drive they upload to, so that should take care of everything either way.
As we fade out, we go to a computer screen that is watching what looks like a security camera. It’s Bryan and Cassie burying the bodies via the hidden camera in the garden gnome. It’s then that we realize that everything that happened in the vacation house was being uploaded to the internet to a site called “Eye See You”, a voyeur site, and that many people already saw what they did.
What creeps me out the most about this film is the invasion of privacy. I don’t like the idea of paying money to go stay in someone else’s home but that’s just me personally. I don’t even like hotels. Then again, I travelled for a living for ten years or so. I guess that can make a difference.
Here’s the thing. This film could be the chilling cautionary tale for those sites where you book to go stay at someone else’s pad for five days for a vacation. There are a lot of sites that do it and we all know what they are and to avoid any chance of any type of lawsuit I am not going to mention their names in this article. People are too sensitive nowadays. Not worth the risk.
But this does show how, in this day and technological age, our assumption of privacy can easily be taken advantage of or manipulated. I mean, this couple straight assumes that some stranger that they’ve never met in person, never even talked to on the phone, is just as honest, if not more so, than they are. They assume that they will have privacy in someone else’s home??? Why??? That’s like assuming you have privacy in a government building or on the internet. You don’t by the way. Nothing is anonymous. Don’t kid yourselves.
This film eerily walks through the chilling sequence of an already dysfunctional relationship being invaded and dismantled all for the bleak entertainment of others. Although voyeurism is intellectually understandable with my psychology background, emotionally I have a hard time processing that kind of intrusive abuse of trust.
We’re talking about a stranger in a foreign and unfamiliar country filming you in your most vulnerable and private moments and uploading those to the internet for other complete strangers to view, comment on, pick apart, make fun of, exploit or worse. With geo-tagging and exif-data our world is getting more and more complicated, more and more dangerous. Certain things can actually tell the predators where you are without them even trying. The thought of your most intimate life details being broadcast on some random public access website…that should scare the crap out of anyone.
There wasn’t anything bad about this movie. There wasn’t anything spectacular either. I would call it average. The little twist at the end where we find out everything goes to the internet and that there are more people being watched than just Bryan and Cassie, that was good.
The acting wasn’t bad at all and the filming was definitely very decent. I just wish there had been a little more punch. Ya know? A film with this story, I feel like there could have been more weight to it, more heft. I was waiting for a real WOW moment and other than the little AH HA at the end, we didn’t really get one.
That doesn’t mean this was a bad movie and it’s one that I would probably be willing to watch again. I have a feeling this is one of those movies that tends to grow on you the more you watch it. So, I’m not going to count it out completely. And I do think suspense and thriller lovers should give it a go and at least see it once.
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