White Settlers Movie Review
Written by Charlotte Stear
DVD released by Warwick Films
Directed by Simeon Halligan
Written by Ian Fenton
2014, 80 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 20th October 2014
Pollyanna McIntosh as Sarah
Lee Williams as Ed
Joanne Mitchell as Flo
White Settlers follows a young wealthy couple who relocate from London to a remote part of Scotland in order to buy and renovate a house. But the couple soon run into trouble when they realise their presence isn’t completely welcomed by the locals.
This is a home invasion film that starts off with a definite Straw Dogs vibe, it has great pacing and an eerie sense of dread to it. The opening shots of cinematography are breathtakingly gorgeous and although it lulls the audience into a false sense of security, the soundtrack that plays underneath hints that things are not all what they seem.
Home invasion movies are hard to get right and it lies in the buildup of tension and the characters going through the ordeal. White Settlers doesn’t pack a big enough punch as it should do, which is down to the rather hideous character of Ed (Lee Williams) who is unlikable in every way; condescending and foul to his girlfriend Sarah (Pollyanna McIntosh) and someone diificult to get behind as an audience. Sarah is also submissive to his behaviour which is frustrating to watch. When things start to get nasty there’s no real connection to the characters so it’s not as effective, however when Sarah comes into her own and starts to kick ass, it is a great pay off. McIntosh is a criminally underrated actress and she proves her versatility in this feature, showing a softer side than we may be used to in previous works like The Woman.
The release of the movie has tied in well with the recent referendum in Scotland and the animosity between the locals and the outsiders is tough to watch once it gets going, it gives the film a sense of reality that is hostile and uncomfortable. Interestingly, the story doesn’t play out as you may expect which is very unique and brave, but again feels like it ends on rather a whimper than a bang.
This is the second feature from director Simeon Halligan, who obviously has a love for the genre as he has crafted a very beautiful piece of work, despite the violence that lies within it. It’s a testament to him that he has created such a stunning visual work on such a small budget and it will be interesting to see what comes next.