Monday, November 9, 2015

Strike Up the Bagpipes

When you've seen one horror movie with a Netflix cover showing a woman on the ground reaching for help, you've probably seen them all.
I hadn't seen this one, so I did. And now I can the previous sentence to say, "I actually had pretty much seen this one."

Quick Plot: Ed and Sarah are a British city couple looking to settle in a more spacious and picturesque local. When a beautiful farmhouse in remote Scotland shows up on the market at a bargain price (in part because the previous owner and his extensive family could no longer afford it) they move in with full DIY enthusiasm.

Before the couple has a chance to reroute their mail, a group of rubber pig mask wearing locals brings on the home invasion, leaving us with a 45 minute chase through the woods.

It's not nearly as interesting as it sounds.
The Blood Lands has been shoving its cover in my face every time I log into Netflix, and the pedigree of the wonderful Pollyana McIntosh (The Woman herself) and short running time made it an easy sell. Clearly, I need to raise my standards.

The location is pretty. The leads are fine (even if they also happen to be yuppie jerks with little to no charm). But essentially, Simeon Halligan's The Bad Lands (aka White Settlers) is a five minute chase scene from something like The Strangers or You're Next stretched into a full-length feature. The villains have no discernible personality other than "hating British city folk who buy their rightful home" and "wearing rubber pig masks." The music is probably the film's best feat, but this isn't the score to Halloween or It Follows. It's just, you know, okay.

It's rare that I'm so baffled by why a movie was made, but when you get to the end of The Blood Lands, I think you might furrow your eyebrow with the same confusion that I did. This is a movie constructed and presented like your standard home invasion horror, but it's weirdly afraid to commit to it. We have a ridiculously long buildup surrounding uninteresting characters, an extensive cat and mouse hunt that offers nothing new, and an incredibly tame ending that leaves you shrugging. These things are not good.

High Points
I've always been a fan of McIntosh, and it's also nice that her character generally shows good instincts in fighting back

Low Points
Aside from the whole "what's the point of this movie at all" thing, here comes yet another film to feature a character discovering another bound and gagged and first ungagging them before, oh, I don't know, untying his hands so that a) he can ungag himself and b) he can help you when the person who presumably gagged him in the first place comes right back

Lessons Learned, The Scotland Edition
Scottish people hate the English with more fervor than I hate onions

Things you won't find in Scotland: network signals, working electricity, traffic, bears

Things you will find in Scotland: bear traps. Glorious, glorious bear traps

The Blood Lands isn't an incompetent film, but it sure is an incredibly frustrating one. It goes on too long with no payoff, and considering the film doesn't crack 90 minutes, that's a pretty rough selling point. 


  1. I got to the end of this one and thought it was actually kind of funny. If it had gone down the well-tread path it wouldn't even have stuck in my memory.
    It all would have went over MUCH better though if it had had a dark comedic streak all through it... rename it 'Keep Out You Wankers!'

    1. It just had no real personality behind it. It had elements of humor, but I don't know if it was ever really intentional. And it wasn't scary. Just such a bizarre tone (or lack thereof).