The Welder (2021) Movie Review – Racism Themed Horror Falls Flat
Roe and Eliza, a young couple on a weekend getaway, come face-to-face with the harrowing experiments of a former doctor bent on curing the social blight of racism.
Welcome to Knockout Horror and to our review of The Welder from 2021. This will be a pretty quick review as, let’s be real, this is an older movie and barely anyone will read this. This movie is floating round on Prime Video in the UK at the moment and marketed as if it is from last year. Hence why I watched it as I am in the middle of trying to catch up on stuff I have missed.
Still, the sunny Florida setting and the, initially, blissful Everglades resort the movie is set on make for a perfect sunny horror movie so why not include it as part of our attempt to wipe away the January winter blues? Unfortunately, The Welder is probably not going to do a very good job of that as it’s not a great movie.
Racism Themed Horror
Following the story of former Army medic Eliza (Camila Rodríguez) and her boyfriend Roe (Roe Dunkley). The Welder sees our interracial couple head out to a holiday home in the Everglades in an attempt to escape Eliza’s PTSD symptoms. What initially seems like a relaxing, but inconvenient due to the lack of cell phone coverage and electricity, vacation. Quickly turns into the holiday from hell as the pair find themselves the subject of a mad man’s experiments.
The first thing that’s worth pointing out about The Welder is its somewhat interesting plot setup. There is a heavy focus on issues of race here and director David Liz really goes out of his way to subvert viewer’s expectations. What starts as something that feels distinctly “Get Out” like in its presentation. Soon transforms into something a little different and, actually, fairly interesting. This isn’t quite your typical “white man bad” racism themed horror movie. Though there are elements of that here. It’s a tiny bit more complex than that.
A Nice Try
The subverting of expectations continues later on in the movie. With Liz keen to play against type when it comes to your usual horror movie tropes. Whether that is having a minority female lead, an interracial couple, or some of the more redemption focused elements of the story. It is fairly easy to appreciate the effort put in here to be anything other than just another slasher movie. It is these elements that keep you watching while the rest of the movie struggles to deliver.
Unfortunately, The Welder is just not a great movie. There are few scares, the plot is fairly ridiculous, despite paying homage to some horror classics of old, and the acting can be fairly lacklustre in parts. The Everglades make for a great setting and there is some degree of tension that comes from the foreboding and unforgiving location. But a slow story delivery and confused writing makes it a slog to get through.
A Flawed Narrative
The story here is at the core of the movie. Whereas many horror films can move along quite nicely with minimal narrative, that isn’t the case with The Welder. The themes of racism and harmony are central to the plot and to the antagonist’s motivation. Meaning that when the events of the movie are taken as a whole, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are a lot of contradictions to the killer’s motivations and I very much doubt that is deliberate. It is just poor storytelling.
An incredibly slow moving first half of the movie does The Welder no favours. It drags its feet for a very long time before things become interesting. There’s far too much pointing out of “how cooky this character is” or “what is the deal with this character?” to keep you interested. Liz really tries to strike that same balance as Get Out where you consistently feel like something is off. But, unfortunately, the plot has none of the intrigue and none of the excellent pacing of Get Out. It quickly wears out its welcome.
Picks Up Late
Things get better in the last third with a quicker pace and a few more thrills. But the almost comic book villain style ending really doesn’t fit. It’s different, I will give it that, and conjures memories of the ending of movies like No One Gets Out Alive. But when you take the final scene in as a whole, it feels extremely silly and comical.
Direction is okay. Pacing is a big problem, as mentioned above. Shots are well set up, though, and the movie doesn’t feel particularly budget. Camila Rodríguez is fine as Eliza. She doesn’t stand out in a good or a bad way. Roe Dunkley seems ill at ease in front of the camera. The writers gave him some decent lines to work with but his delivery is unconvincing and, at times, wooden. Vincent De Paul is okay as William Godwin and has some decent moments camping it up.
Final Thoughts and Score
I appreciate what David Liz is trying to do with The Welder but it doesn’t quite work. The message is confused and poorly delivered. The antagonist is, for lack of a better word, preaching to the choir and it’s hard not to put this down to poor writing. The first half of the movie drags tremendously. The last third picks up a bit but it feels too little too late. The Welder is a movie with some potential and I commend that but it never quite delivers.