Welcome to Curiosity, written by Darren Ripley and directed by Ben Pickering (a duo that already worked together on The Smoke), is a collection of stories happening at the same time in a village called Curiosity.
This is an adequate name for the setting of such an odd patchwork of intrigues: a young runaway, Amrita Acharia (Game Of Thrones (TV), I Am Yours) inadvertently meets dangerous men, a newspaper boy, Finn Corney (Doc Martin) investigates a series of murder happening in town and suspects the local gardener, Brian Croucher (I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Londinium) to be the killer, a criminal, Christian Solimeno (I Made This For You, DJ) is tasked with an armed robbery but the heist goes wrong, forcing him and his partner, Eke Chukwu (How We Met (TV), Aliceville) to retreat in the home of two siblings, Kacey Clarke (Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Inbetweeners (TV)) & Christopher Rithin (Outside The Box, The Smoke), and a salesman, Gary Grant (The Glass Man, Raindogs) disillusioned with his life befriends a wild and carefree hitchhiker, Terry Sweeney (The Smoke, The Man With Four Legs).
All this while a serial killer is on the loose after escaping a psychiatric hospital. This is a lot to show in 90 minutes of runtime but Welcome to Curiosity manages to keep a nice pacing (never dragging but never too cramped either).
Despite being very different and not always connected – except that they’re all linked to the town – the stories all flow nicely together. One plot (the runaway) is given way too little screen time, a lost opportunity for what could have been a particularly intense storyline, but the three other stories are fortunately all given a somewhat equal treatment.
This mixing of stories allows for the filmmakers to play with different genres: the heist plot is given a nice western-like scene, the salesman and the hitchhiker sometimes veer off into the comedic genre, and the curious newspaper boy’s quest is never too far off from horror movies.
Even by mixing these genres, the director still manages to keep a consistent tone and atmosphere throughout, and even though there’s nothing very original in the mise-en-scène, the cinematography by Bruce Melhuish is pleasing to the eyes and offers some really nice shots.
Unfortunately, Welcome to Curiosity is plagued by two big flaws: its treatment of women, and the predictability of some of the storylines.
Out of the four storylines, only one is led by a woman, and that is the shortest one. While this isn’t a big problem on its own, it becomes one when the female characters of the movie have overall very little screen time compared to the male characters, and some of them are oversexualized.
When the female character with the most screen time has a scene in which, after a traumatic event, she runs to her room, undresses herself and cries for twenty-five long seconds wearing only underwear, there’s something wrong.
Someone could argue that taking off her dirty clothes is only natural, but the way the scene is shot and acted is pretty clear on what the intent is; and it isn’t the only one. This makes the viewing uncomfortable at times, and the movie feel outdated.
What’s even more outdated are some of the plot points, too cliché to be taken seriously. While half of the storylines had unexpected (positively so) endings, the other half were ridiculously predictable and using clichés so over-used that they feel parodic.
The characters are also pretty stereotypical, but because they’re given the required minimum amount of characterization and played by good actors it doesn’t bring the movie down too much.
All in all, Welcome to Curiosity is a very average thriller, whose main value would be the ending twists of some of its storylines; twists that aren’t necessarily exceptional but at least offer more than the rest of the movie does.
Apart from its treatment of women, the movie is not bad but unfortunately too average to be anything other than a forgettable watch.