The Welder (2023) Fails to Weld Together a Competent Slasher
Title: The Welder
First Non-Festival Release: February 24, 2023 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: David Liz
Writer: Manuel Delgadillo, David Liz
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Starring: Camila Rodríguez, Vincent De Paul, Roe Dunkley
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Racism is a plight on American society that still infects society in horrific ways. How does one person go about changing such a powerful institutional force?
Young couple Eliza (Camila Rodríguez) and Roe (Roe Dunkley) decide to book a weekend getaway to spend time together and allow Eliza to work through some personal issues. They book a cabin in the middle of nowhere run by William (Vincent De Paul), a doctor who lost his wife years ago. As the days go by, the couple find that their host’s strange behavior is rooted in something sinister.
Well-intentioned yet unfortunately dismal slasher The Welder makes for misshapen sociopolitical statements amidst dull carnage.
From the beginning, The Welder clearly has plenty to say but doesn’t quite know how to assemble the words. A clunky cold open and some rough dialogue sets the tone for the remainder of the film. As it continues, the mystery of The Welder unfolds thanks to some obvious foreshadowing. The film never really recovers from its initial unevenness and becomes a tedious affair quickly. Any suspense is killed by the monotonous pacing and repetitive script, making The Welder a rather impotent slasher affair.
Its social commentary feels forced rather than profound leading to The Welder coming off as preachy and stale. Racism can be explored in many ways, and historically horror has been and can be an excellent place to do so. The Welder offers up few new takes on race relations. The writers are quick to condemn racism at every turn while not providing any meaningful criticism of it. Of course, racism is bad. What else? The Welder can’t seem to muster anything beyond its surface level examination. Instead, its response to its thesis is gleefully camp. This would be fine if the film didn’t take itself so seriously. Instead, it becomes a monstrosity of a metaphor that just gets sillier the longer the film persists.
Horrendous performances and characterization add to the already weak script. There is not a single performance amongst the entire cast that breaks free from mediocre at best. Between awkward line delivery, stammering, and unconvincing facial acting, it is hard to take anyone seriously in their role. Truthfully, there is little to work with thanks to the flimsy characterization. Each actor is given a rough, two-dimensional sketch of a person that fails to show true humanity underneath their plot requirements. Their growth and development is equally stunted. The longer The Welder plays on, the less each character stays on a course of realistic or consistent change. Their actions become even more frustrating when they seem to only serve to patch together the threadbare plot.
While it is rather difficult to find praise in the rough, The Welder does manage to shine, even if for a few moments. The Welder does an exceptional job of making its setting look and feel creepy. Consistent drone shots establish a sense of isolation in the beautiful Florida countryside, and more intimate shots make the ranch feel claustrophobic. A few scenes manage to quicken the pulse ever so much, which is a welcome feeling after scenes of wandering around the property get too tiresome.
In the end, The Welder is another entry in a long line of failed attempts at combining horror and commentary. Of course, horror has always been political, but such overt and shallow statements do not keep the genre alive. In fact, the lack of creativity kills it. The problems in The Welder reach far beyond its good intentions. From its poor writing, rough performances, and inadequate maintenance of tension and suspense, The Welder has all the thrills of taking a very long Uber drive in the country. If low budget slashers and indie films that try to say something is your thing, give it a chance. Otherwise, it may not need to rate super high on your list of future horror destinations.
Overall Score? 3/10