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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Blood Lands (Blu-ray)
The Blood Lands (Blu-ray)
Magnolia Home Entertainment // Unrated // September 1, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 9, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Directed by Simeon Halligan and written by Ian Fenton, 2014's The Blood Lands (originally released as White Settlers) follows Ed Chapman (Lee Williams) and his wife Sarah (Pollyanna McIntosh) as they move from London to start a new life in the Scottish countryside. They've done well for themselves and are able to buy a nice, if fairly rundown, old farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere thanks to the efforts of a real estate agent named Flo (Joanne Mitchell). She lets them know that the place was owned by the same family for years and years but hard economic times meant that family lost the place. Their loss is the Chapmans' gain, it would seem.

They know that they'll have to put some work into fixing the place up but they move in with high hopes. Shortly after they move in, however, they start to wonder if they've made a mistake. The fuses go out and they don't have another light source. The sounds of wildlife out in the nearby woods make spooky noises at night, noises that people who have lived in the city for most of their lives just flat out aren't used to hearing. This keeps them up at night, Sarah specifically, as she's convinced that there's someone else in the house. The problem is that they haven't really seen anyone else around… but of course, this wouldn't be much of a horror movie if all of this was in their heads, right? Generic bad guys attack and the couple have to work together to defend themselves… but will it be enough?

There's a good set up here. The movie not so subtly makes some connections between these rich Londoners buying up an old family home owned by Scots and the underlying issues that have always been a part of the history between those two countries, but it doesn't really go anywhere with it once things start moving. This is odd, as the implications appear to be pretty deliberate, and it's also a wasted opportunity. Had the movie exploited this aspect, it could have been more interesting than it actually is and what we're left with is a movie that's a bit too familiar in some ways.

At first you feel as if it might be a play on Peckinpah's Straw Dogs or maybe something like The Last House On The Left> by way of The Strangers, and elements from those movies are there, but whereas those films seemed fresh and original The Blood Lands turns out to be derivative, if moderately entertaining. You kind of have to shut your brain off here to ignore some remarkably DUMB moves on the parts of the two leads and some of the inconsistencies that exist with these characters. If you can do that, you'll find that the movie does have some reasonably suspenseful scenes and a couple of fun, if not particularly long-lasting, scares to offer.

Williams and McIntosh are fine as the leads here. Their characters are a bit naïve to say the least but they're not really bad people, just in a bad situation. We have no trouble liking them (even if they make some boneheaded moves, the kind that you can't help but notice) and we want them to make it out of this situation alive. The movie is also very nicely shot, making great use of some location footage to help create an atmosphere that is pretty effective in how destitute and lonely it seems. When night falls on the house, you get why the home's new residents might be a little uneasy with their new digs. Sound design helps here too, with the creaky noises that the old house makes and the sounds outside the home coming into the mix rather well and heightening suspense a bit. Unfortunately it's not enough to make a mediocre script any more than just that. You won't hate yourself for watching this as it's not a terrible film, but once it's over you probably won't ever think about it again.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

The Dead Lands arrives on Blu-ray from Magnolia Pictures framed in a 1.78.1 widescreen aspect ratio in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. There are no print damage issues to note here while clarity and color reproduction are generally top notch. Black levels are solid and shadow detail is pretty good too. Close up shots show the most detail, which isn't a surprise, but medium and long distance shots also fare quite well. This is a really strong, transfer with nice detail and depth that reproduces the movie's natural color scheme very well. The image is free of compression artifacts, edge enhancement and noise reduction problems.

Sound:

The audio is offered dubbed in English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio with optional subtitles available in English, English SDH, French and Spanish. This is, as you'd guess, a pretty strong mix. There's lots of surround activity here and really strong, deep bass emanating from the subwoofer when the movie calls for it. The levels stay properly balanced here and there's nice depth to the mix. Hiss and distortion are never an issue. There's a lot of neat stuff done with the sound here, particularly once the main characters move into the house and the weird stuff starts going on. Say what you will about the movie but the sound design is very good and this Blu-ray handles that aspect of the presentation very well.

Extras:

The main extra on the disc is a sixteen minute featurette called The Making Of The Blood Lands that is made up primarily of cast and crew interviews but which also contains some behind the scenes footage. It's a little too promotional in nature but it's interesting to see what went into putting the movie together. Rounding out the extras on the disc are trailers for a few other Magnet Releasing titles, animated menus and chapter selection. The Blu-ray case comes housed inside a cardboard slipcover.

Final Thoughts:

The Blood Lands has all the makings of a horror movie that could have been both eerie and interesting at the same time, but it fails to take advantage of much of what makes the concept a good one in the first place. The performances are decent enough and the movie is well put together from a technical angel but it quickly descends into a series of clichés. Magnolia's Blu-ray looks and sounds very good and contains a moderately interesting featurette as its primary supplement. Rent it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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