Ginger Nuts of Horror
There are times when when reviewing a film where you are not sure if the filmmaker is making a straight up horror film or a horror film with an agenda. Ifit is the latter, then they better make sure they do it right. There is nothing worse than a heavy handed attempt at social commentary.
White Settlers (AKA The Blood Lands) has an English couple buy a house in the Scottish Borders, the house just happens to be built on the site of an infamous battle between the English and the Scots. Where the winner of said battle all depends on who you ask.
During their first night in the slightly run down farmhouse they are visited by a bunch of axe wielding, pig masked wearing vigilantes who may or may not want the house back (it's hard to tell as there doesn't seem to be any motivation for their actions at this point). It is then a fight for survival for our unlucky couple and a fight to finish this rather uninspiring film.
I can only assume that the reason for setting this film in the Scottish Borders wasas an excuse to use the film as some sort of heavy handed look at the independence campaign that raged last year. It's just a pity that even after watching it twice I can't decide which side of the fence the filmmakers sit on. It's not that the film is in anyway nuanced or ambiguous its just not very well done.
The two main leads, despite some good performances, are just ignorant, rude and obnoxious. Especially the husband with his constant jibes at the locals and Scotland in general. This in itself would be OK if they were trying to make a film that fell on the side of the YES vote, but then they go and make the Scottish locals into a bunch of barely intelligible, thuggish and downright stupid. Come on pick a side!
Even if there is no message to the film, White Settlers still fails to be a film worth watching. From the Tweed wearing estate agent, whose accent flails widely between Scottish, Welsh and a hint of Spike Milligan Indian, to a narrative and a conclusion that makes no sense whatsoever this film is both cliched and stupid.
As soon as the estate agent opened her mouth I knew this film was going to give me problems. Even with the film's small budget I'm sure they could have got an ex cast member of Take The High Road to play the part. At least we wouldn't have been subjected to the stupid attempt at a Scottish accent. And let us not forget the obligatory shot of a Highland cow, no film set in Scotland is complete without a Highland Cow. Although it is not until the Pig Mask wearing intruders shop up that the film gets really stupid.
They show up from nowhere with no motivation, they are just there, it would have helped the film if we knew why they were doing this, even if it was just a simple thing like they were just plain crazy, but no we have to make up our own minds until it is sort of explained at the end of the film. Now I understand that these aren't dyed in the wool psychopaths, or maybe they are. This may or may not be the first time they have done this, it's really not that clear. But they are totally inept, without direction and by the look of it so profoundly deaf and blind an elephant playing the bagpipes could walk right past them and they wouldn't notice. The escape and subsequent hunt for our plucky heroine plays out like those scenes in Scooby Doo where Scooby and Shaggy are chased through a corridor filled with doors.
How they couldn't see her hiding behind a low wall, and open gate or under a car is beyond me, and lets not forget that staple of horror films, the dropping of something right next to where someone is hiding.
There is apparently no internet in the house and surrounding area, so where these intruders got all the pig masks I don't know, surely if they got them from a local shop, then when the subsequent police investigation takes place someone would remember them buying a lot of them.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
The biggest plot fail of this film is in its resolution, when it is finally revealed as to the reason why the intruders have decided to attack the couple it actually makes the film make even less sense.
It appears that the intruders are members of the same family who previously owned the house, going by the old picture still hanging on the wall. All they wanted was their house back. Which is fine enough, I can understand that, but why in God's name did you not kill the interlopers, you know the people who legally purchased your home, who have a data trail, and more importantly know where you are now living. I know you wore masks to hide your identities, but one of you stupidly got their face sliced open, which I think is enough to link you to the crime. Plus the fact YOU ARE NOW LIVING IN THERE HOUSE A DAY AFTER YOU ATTACKED THEM.
This revelation is so stupid it hurts. Are you saying that the English are too scared to the police or the Scots are too stupid to think this might happen? Whatever your reason for ending the film like this it is unforgivable.
This is a deeply flawed film, poor direction pathetic overladen attempts at political commentary (do the filmmakers really think that all Scots fly the saltire flag from the front of our houses?) turn what could have been a formulaic home invasion film into a severely flawed, annoying and at times a crudely offensive film. It looks like these White Settlers settled for fifth best