Written by Ian Fenton (Emmerdale, Byker Grove) and directed by Simeon Halligan (His second feature length film.) The Blood Lands, aka White Settlers is more a sly dig at real estate than a straight up horror film. At the time of its release, the film caused a bit of a stir as the Scottish Referendum was making headlines.
But strip away the Scottish national issues and it all boils down to the British housing market and how big money from the cities make buying properties more than difficult.
Pollyanna Macintosh (Exam, Let Us Prey) and Lee Williams (When Calls the Heart, Grantchester) are Sarah and Ed. A couple from the city who travel to the wilds of Scotland to buy a dilapidated pig farm that was repossess by the bank.
A property that has been in one family for generations now belongs to them. Out in the middle of nowhere, the farm is isolated and their first night in the house turns into a nightmare. A group of men, in pig masks invade the home and they fight to stay alive.
The horror film has been credited with mirroring the Scottish sentiment about leaving Britain. That the movie was released at the same time as the referendum was, perhaps, more serendipitous than purposeful.
Anyone who has attempted, or actually purchased, a home in England will know about house prices. After the bottom dropped out of the market in the ’90s prices once again skyrocketed. Prospective home owners got into bidding wars and often local denizens of villages across the country lost out to big city money.
(The problem was so bad at one point that local councils built houses specifically for young local people to buy.)
In Scotland, and quite often in England, there was a practice called “gazumping” which meant that after a price for a house and been agreed upon, another party could offer more money and then “gazump” the people who thought they had bought the house.
Property prices have far exceeded what most first time buyers can afford. Some areas are more expensive than others. Suffolk, which Ed mentions early on in the film, is one of the most expensive places to buy a home in the United Kingdom.
In that area of the country a lot of Londoners buy houses driving prices up and forcing the locals out of the market. At the start of the film, there is a notice that it was influenced by real events. It is the city folks forcing prices up that the filmmakers are on about.
The Blood Lands really is a wry look at the housing market in a country where houses skyrocketed in value and kept many first time buyers from getting on the ladder. The same issues apply in this story, a family farm was repossessed and the family could not afford to purchase the property. They then decide to chase out the couple who did buy the farmhouse.
The film is taut and starts off with a few laughs. The couple are cute and funny together. McIntosh and Williams have a splendid chemistry together and their lines, at the start, are funny.
Halligan delivers a brilliantly paced horror film. At 79 minutes long, The Blood Lands races along and offers more than a few nail biting moments. The ending is a bit ambiguous but does not detract from the film at all.
The Blood Lands is streaming on Netflix at the moment. This is a 4 star film that delivers an entertaining and tense thriller/horror. Have a look at the trailer and see what you think.