THE BLOOD LANDS (2014)
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Also known as The White Settlers, flick is well directed by Simeon Halligan but, serves up a very routine story of city folk moving into the country and not finding themselves welcome. Film has English couple Sarah (Pollyanna McIntosh) and Ed (Lee Williams) moving into an old farmhouse in the Scottish countryside. The first night there they begin to hear strange things and are soon laid siege upon by a group of individuals wearing pig masks. As Ed is captured, Sarah is forced to flee into the unfamiliar woodlands with the gang of masked invaders in pursuit. What do they want and why are they doing this?
…and that’s a couple of questions that, sadly, have very mundane answers.
As stated, director Simeon Halligan guides this story well and builds some chills and suspense even before our villains arrive. The film moves quickly and is kept to a tight 80 minutes. The problem is that Ian Fenton’s politically tinged script is a very routine locals vs city folk story that doesn’t have the guts to take the story to a more effective finale. Without giving away details, we basically get an ending that evokes a very ‘that’s it?’ reaction. The scenes of our couple being hunted thorough their old creepy farmhouse and then in the surrounding woods are quite well done but, far from anything new. We’ve seen the whole masked invaders thing many times before as we have the whole outsiders vs locals storyline. Halligan gives us some chills and suspense but, is ultimately defeated by this very routine plot and a final that does make it’s point but, again…evokes a ‘that’s it?’ from the audience. At least the film looks good as Halligan has a nice eye for the visuals evoked by the old farmhouse and surrounding countryside. Cinematographer James Swift captures it well and it does add atmosphere to the less than original proceedings. Be interesting to see what Halligan can do with a more original script.
As our couple, Lee Williams is likable as the handy Ed, a man obviously talked into this moving venture by his wife. As Sarah, Pollyanna McIntosh is also very likable. A sexy young woman who starts out being afraid of her own shadow, now in that she’s in the rural countryside, but, grows into a resilient fighter over the course of a night of horrors. Their adversaries remain masked and don’t say much so, they remain cliché and all too familiar boogeymen and nothing more. We never really get any personality assigned to them. They are completely generic. When you find out the simple motives for their attack, it makes them even less threatening.
Overall this is an OK film if you take it for what it is and enjoy the hunt and chase aspects of it. The story is very routine and the motives are even more ho-hum, but, at least we get some suspense, chills and a bit of nasty violence. For a film meant to be a metaphor of the relations between Scotland and England, you’d think it would require a stronger statement from those trying to make that statement. At least Simeon Halligan shows potential as a director and hopefully we’ll get to see him show us more in a better and more original film.
2 and 1/2 flashlights.