“We are all red inside” is the tagline of the film, The Welder, which explores the horrors of racism and racial division. Co-written and directed by David Liz, the indie horror film follows a young interracial couple, Eliza (Camila Rodriguez) and Roe (Roe Dunkley) as they vacation on an isolated ranch to help Eliza cope with PTSD from her days as an army medic. Once on the ranch, however, the couple encounters an insane doctor who believes he’s found the answer to racism: bloodshed, violence, and gruesome experiments.
Written by Liz and Manny Delgadillo, The Welder offers a blood-soak nightmare reminiscent of Frankenstein. From the opening shots, the film does an excellent job establishing a creepy and suspenseful atmosphere, as Eliza sleepwalks into the pouring rain only to be jolted back to reality by her boyfriend, Roe. Meanwhile a mysterious gloved man leaves bloody organs around his ranch. From there it’s only a matter of time before the couple decides to take a trip to an isolated ranch to unwind and ride horses. Big mistake. Roe was right, and the couple should have gone on a trip to the beach.
Eliza tries to relax but quickly notices something very wrong at the ranch; the caretaker, William Godwin (Vincent de Paul) gives her the creeps and she’s worried about the numerous posters hanging around the only nearby town with the faces of missing locals. Godwin’s ranch-hand, Don (Crist Moward) is kind but odd, with an aura of fear that hangs over him. No one else shares Eliza’s concerns and she’s forced to accept that maybe her fears are the result of her suspicious traumatized mind.
Eliza’s fears shouldn’t have been so quickly dismissed, as Godwin reveals himself as the perpetrator of gruesome experiments to cure racism, motivated by the death of his wife, a Black woman who appears throughout the film in brief flashbacks. Unfortunately, as is the case with many white folks who’ve “found the answer to racism” he only succeeds in making things worse. Way worse. The horror genre has always served as a vehicle to explore social issues and human rights, with some films poignantly and heartbreakingly exploring the horrors and ramifications of racism. Whether or not The Welder succeeds in portraying this message is up to individual viewers, but I will say that the ending of the film left me a little confused in a way that to me, undermined the message The Welder was trying to convey. It’s hard not going into detail without spoiling the film’s twist, but it felt underbaked.
The Welder features a small cast and writers Liz and Delgadillo give each character plenty of screen time for character development, so they all felt well-fleshed out, though sometimes the dialogue is a little awkward. I also like some of the ways the film subverted typical storytelling tropes, though some of the ideas felt like they could have used more time to be authentically explored. The Welder also boasts some truly stunning cinematography, especially the establishing shots of the ranch which hammer down (or weld-together, not sure about that pun though) the idea that Eliza and Roe are on their own.
The Welder takes a chunk out of digital on February 24, 2023.
Are you intrigued enough to watch The Welder? Tell us why or why not in the comments section.