Fresh from premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, science fiction film Settlers explores Mankind’s earliest settlers on the Martian frontier do what they must to survive the cosmic elements and each other.
Our introduction to the settlers is through the eyes of Remmy (played by The Florida Project’s Brooklyn Prince). She was born on Mars and spent her whole life here. However she is reaching the age where she is beginning to ask questions. Like who or what are her parents so afraid of and what lies beyond the ridge of the settlement that she is never allowed to go beyond and explore.
One day they awake to a threatening message on the windows written in blood that simply says “LEAVE”. This kickstarts a tragic chain of events that will cause her to question everything she knows about her Life On Mars.
The film draws upon elements from the wide pantheon of sci-fi classics. An animated droid (in terms of expression not CGI) recalls Silent Running, the use of locations and landscape feel similar to Ridley Scott’s The Martian and the slowburn mystery evokes memories of Oblivion.
However the film it closest resembles in terms of tone is M. Night Shamalyan’s The Village. Both are well-polished genre films that hint at a societal structure where everything is not quite as it seems.
Writer-director Wyatt Rockefeller looks to dripfeed subtle hints as to the larger mystery. The main focus therefore being the tension within the family unit. In order to sustain the intrigue, he needs a series of strong performances and gets just that from Brooklyn Prince and Nell Tiger Free.
In the end however, Settlers leaves far too many questions unanswered. Ultimately making for a frustrating narrative experience.
Settlers is in cinemas and on digital in the UK from Friday 30th July.
Director: Wyatt Rockefeller
Stars: Brooklyn Prince, Sofia Boutella, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Jonny Lee Miller
Runtime: 103 minutes