Friday, October 16, 2015

Film Review: The Blood Lands (aka White Settlers) (2014)

The Blood Lands (aka White Settlers) (Review)
United Kingdom/2014 
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"...it is moderately entertaining and somewhat refreshing for the genre."

English couple Sarah (Pollyanna McIntosh) and Ed (Lee Williams) move to a secluded home in Scotland to lead peaceful lives, but find themselves tormented by uninvited guests...

The Blood Lands, or White Settlers, is a fairly basic home invasion film. The story follows Sarah and Ed as they spend their first night in their new home. On that very same night, however, the couple are interrupted by intruders wearing pig masks. When Ed vanishes, Sarah finds herself running through the forest to rescue her husband and escape her pursuers. She'll bump heads with them every now and then, but it's mostly sneaking and hiding. That's really about everything that happens in the plot. It does have some political undertones, which make for an interesting ending, but it's generally the same ol' home invasion flick.

Does that make The Blood Lands a bad film? I really don't think so. In fact, I was entertained at the end of the day. The film develops some moderate suspense, which works well with the moderate pacing - it never moves too fast or too slow. There are also some grizzly surprises. There's one type of slicing that always makes me cringe and this film has that. The film does well in balancing these elements to keep you on your toes. The purpose, or the motivation, for the home invasion is also different, which is a welcomed change for the subgenre.

The film, however, clearly isn't perfect. Although the reasoning behind the invasion has changed, the method has not. In turn, this film adopts many of the home invasion genre's dull cliches and flaws. Again, we have a group of inept intruders wearing animal masks; we have our heroine, who always manages to conveniently escape her pursuers by a hair; and, we have the same setting — a secluded house without a neighbor in sight. The plot contrivances have no shame, sticking out like a sore thumb. The ending, although different, also feels like a cop-out. These issues don't cripple the film, but they certainly stop the film from reaching its full potential.

The acting is good, though. Pollyanna McIntosh is a great leading lady, immersing herself in a realistic character — even when the world around her is not. Lee Williams is also good; there was one scene where he felt overdone, though. The cinematography and music are serviceable — nothing stood out as terrible or exemplary. (For a film mostly taking place in night, I'm happy to at least have the ability to see, unlike The Woman In Black 2...) The film is directed by Simeon Halligan and written by Ian Fenton. The direction is generally safe, but it is actually strong in crafting some suspenseful scenes. The film is more hindered by the generic writing.

Overall, The Blood Lands is a decent home invasion film. It is bolstered by its suspense, its good direction, and its strong acting, as well as some interesting plots. At the same time, the film is held back by its conveniently inept intruders, which leads to many plot contrivances, plenty of cliches, like the animal masks, and a generic plot. It's not the worst or best, but it is moderately entertaining and somewhat refreshing for the genre. It's worth a rental or cheap purchase. (Seriously, why do all home intruders wear animal masks? A fetish or something?)

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some sexual references.

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