Directed by Jonas Govaerts
Written by Jones Govaerts and Roel Mondelaers
Starring Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Gill Eeckelaert and Jan Hammenecker
Feral children are a unique experience in the annals of human history. Dating back to Romus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome and moving forward to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and modern cases like the Cambodian Jungle girl featured on the Destination Truth investigative show. They are, however, relatively rare. True, we get feral human tales featuring adults such as Lucky McKee’s The Woman, but I can’t recall seeing one featuring a young child raised in the primal wild. With this is mind, Welp has a unique premise and a lot of promise but it doesn’t quite gel together the sum of all its parts.
I do appreciate the brash decision to add children as characters to the proceedings (alongside their adult counselors of course) as it lends a bit of an unpredictable feel to it. Will they actually commit the cardinal sin of killing the kids?? If so, there are plenty of ways to go about doing it. Welp plays, occasionally, like an odd collusion of the Saw films set in a classic campfire slasher trope. Our somewhat disagreeable protagonists face a double danger of not only a vicious wolf boy but also his adult “master”, who has peppered the forest with various death traps. The traps themselves are unique and violent and arguably the highlight of the film. It’s a unique spin on classic body count horror and a nice, welcome change.
At the heart of the film we have a young boy, Peter, who constantly finds himself bullied and picked on by his fellow peers and counselors alike. Herein lies a problem that the majority of the cast (including Peter himself!) are unlikable and not worthy of our sympathy, effectively reducing the interesting premise into just another slasher. The only real enjoyable character is our stock final girl. She ends up succumbing to the film’s final act which reverts everything to basic torture scenario cliches as well.
As far as effects go, they’re generally well done. The kills are creative and relatively gruesome. It’s not overtly violent (save for one appalling act of animal cruelty that had me hit fast-forward) but gorehounds and effects fans will find enough to whet their appetite. The feral boy Kai is portrayed quite well sporting an enigmatic mask and a recognizable grunting sound (which begs if the filmmakers were looking to potentially franchise this film).
Overall, I did enjoy Welp. It’s a unique film with a cool looking young villain, good effects and some neat ideas. It falls to cliche eventually and it doesn’t live up to its true potential, but it is a solid and decent Belgian horror.
**Welp AKA Cub is presented in its native language and supports English subtitles
3/5 freaky tree bark masks
Splatter Factor 3.5/5 – ***ANIMAL ABUSE WARNING, Welp is solidly gory. There’s plenty of our unnamed antagonist’s booby traps resulting in such trauma as arrow impalements, crushings by tree and tire and plenty of stabbings. There’s also a pretty violent fight club style battle and yes, a difficult to view scene of animal abuse. It’s not gory but the concept is vile and the audio heart wrenching. Animal lovers be cautioned…***
The Collective Speaks: Succumb to your inner most base desires, our sweet ones. Where once we crawled from the primordial muck, so too shall we return to the ashes. Even our littlest ones are not safe from the primal corruption. Couple this with the ingenuity of a sadist after our own crystallized hearts and one would witness sylvanic devastation on unheard of levels. That said, we do enjoy the antics of non human entities and contrary to appearance, do not condone violence against our bestial colleagues.