Writer: Ian Fenton
Cast: Pollyanna McIntosh, Lee Williams
Cert: 15 (TBC)
Running time: 80mins
The lowdown: After making a terrifying impression in Lucky McKee’s The Woman, Pollyanna McIntosh is the one terrorised in Simeon Halligan’s low budget suspenser. An English couple cross the border to Scotland, moving into a large, remote farmhouse. But, what the local welcoming committee lack in congeniality they make up for in violence. Nothing original, but Halligan stages a number of well-executed shocks in the lean running time.
The full verdict: An opening shot prominently displays a “Welcome to Scotland” sign, eliciting a knowing giggle: any film named White Settlers starring Pollyanna McIntosh is not going to be Local Hero.
And these Scots here aren’t going to wait for any referendum before kicking out the English.
London couple Sarah and Ed (McIntosh and Williams) purchase the rundown farmhouse, surrounded by foreboding countryside.
On their very first night in the house pig mask wearing strangers break-in, unleashing a brutal game of hide and seek.
Halligan uses half the eighty minute running time to simmer the tension before the film boils over into violence.
This first section is most successful as White Settlers offers little new to the home invasion or “scary country folk” sub-genre. And on too many occasions Ian Fenton’s script has the couple pass up golden opportunities to finish their tormentors.
But, the misty, rain swept locations are employed to full, aggressive advantage and McIntosh (Scottish born herself) scores as a traumatised audience anchor, believably fighting back as the night wears on.
Dialogue asides hint at a subtext (the home housed generations of a Scottish family before being snatched by a bank), while a brace of odd, plot hole riddled endings suggest both metaphor and an attempt to appease the Scottish tourist board.
Watchable, but in the Scottish horror stakes won’t be giving The Wicker Man any sleepless nights.