White Settlers, 2014
Directed by Simeon Halligan
Starring Pollyanna McIntosh and Lee Williams
It’s Ed and Sarah’s first night at their new home – an isolated farmhouse on the Scottish borders. But as darkness falls, Sarah suspects they’re not alone.
There are some movies that will take a tried and tested genre and risk doing something new with it. Last year, Adam Wingard showed us that you can inject a level of dark humour into the home invasion genre with mixed successes, but for all its failings, You’re Next did try something new. The biggest fault with White Settlers is not the script, it’s not the characters or the story, it’s the fact that it doesn’t even attempt anything new. It’s every home invasion movie you’ve ever seen.
Sarah and Ed are a young couple who are looking to escape their big city London lives and move to a remote part of Scotland where they can be at peace. Sadly for them, some locals haven’t taken too kindly to their arrival and are looking to get rid of them.
White Settlers‘ plot is simple to a fault but it works in its favour. In order for a home invasion movie to have real fear, they need to feel like real scenarios. Ed and Sarah feel like a real couple, their decision to buy this house feels real and the attackers themselves are frighteningly real with real motivations. It doesn’t take a moment to sit down and explain the plot so learn the story progression along with the characters. The script, written by Ian Fenton, is very slow with a good level of escalation and Simeon Halligan’s direction allows for this build to play as methodically as needed.
Pollyanna McIntosh, who blew audiences away in Lucky McKee’s brilliant The Woman, is stunning as the frightened Sarah and her reactions to the events feel incredibly genuine. She is an amazing talent and can take any dialogue, no matter how contrived, and make it sound like they are her words. Lee Williams sadly can’t quite match her level of talent as he looks and sounds like your standard TV actor. He’s not bad and he’s actually fairly good, but he does let the side down somewhat in the early goings. As the film starts to get tense, he steps up his game and the two work very well together.
But for all of the positives in the movie, White Settlers is just really average. If there hadn’t been a slew of home invasion movies over the last few years than perhaps this would have had a fairer review, but as it stands its just another entry into a genre filled with others just like it. Halligan’s direction is great, the script works and the acting is really good, but it’s all so standard. A real shame, but if you are a fan of the home invasion genre and you don’t mind seeing all the clichés you’ve seen a dozen times before, you could do a lot worse than White Settlers.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.