Saturday, 6 September 2014

Border tensions: "White Settlers"

With its backdrop of lingering Anglo-Scottish tensions, the low-budget horror White Settlers may yet get a boost from prevailing sociopolitical conditions: it's a marked improvement on director Simeon Halligan's debut, 2010's hopeless Splintered, if finally a little on the thin side. A slightly condescending London couple (Lee Williams and Pollyanna McIntosh) have pitched up in the Highlands to snap up an ancestral property at a bargain rate; they've barely unpacked before their first row breaks out, and later that night, they attract the attentions of locals wearing pig masks, aggrieved at the manner in which these Sassenachs have swanked in and bought out part of their heritage.

Halligan takes his time to establish such essentials as the lack of phone reception and the mounting antipathy towards these outsiders, and these early scenes allow McIntosh and Williams to offer a deft sketch of a couple with pre-existing trust issues. Thereafter, it turns into a standard runaround in the woods, complete with the now-inevitable nasty mantrap moment, although any sustained sense of threat is undermined by its bungling trio of antagonists. McIntosh's girly-pink Primarni pumps - perfectly bourgeois, and an identifying dash of colour in the dark - are a nice touch; elsewhere, there simply isn't enough detail in either script or direction to cover how fundamentally nuts-and-bolts it is.

White Settlers is now playing in selected cinemas.

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