Review: Though Stunningly Captured, Not-So-Gripping 'Settlers' Loses Its Audience Early

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday July 23, 2021

Brooklynn Prince as 'Remmy' in Wyatt Rockefeller's'Settlers'
Brooklynn Prince as 'Remmy' in Wyatt Rockefeller's'Settlers'  (Source:IFC Midnight)

Stunningly shot, Wyatt Rockefeller's "Settlers" traverses a number of different tones before it loses its audience.

Packed with good performances (especially from young Brooklyn Prince), "Settlers" tells the story of an abandoned outpost on the surface of Mars, where a young family tries to survive the day to day. Worried about "those" that live over the mountains, they are sometimes forced to defend themselves and their land. When one attack goes awry, mom Ilsa (Sofia Boutella) and young Remmy (Prince) are left on their own.

That is, until a wanderer named Jerry (Ismael Cruz Cordova) shows up. He explains his family used to live in the settlement where they now dwell. He ingratiates himself to Ilsa and Remmy, becoming a pseudo-husband and father figure, even though he is responsible for the death of their husband and father (Johnny Lee Miller).

When Remmy decides to leave and find out what is beyond the mountains — something she was told never to do — she finds a glass partition that keeps her world separated from that which is beyond. There's also a large metal door that opens to a tunnel that could lead to freedom or death.

Most of "Settlers" revolves around the dynamics between the characters, which is sporadically interesting but not entirely compelling. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the way into the film, we advance about ten years and Prince's Remmy is switched out for the older Nell Tiger Free ("Servant"). Suddenly, we are asked to feel a connection to an actress we haven't been following, which creates a distance to the narrative. The struggles between Jerry and Remmy continue, everyone seems depressed, and the secrets of their world start to unravel.

This is a beautiful looking film, and, as stated, the actors are all good with Boutella and Prince really shining. The problem is that it's not all that compelling, and it's so much of a downer that it's hard to stay invested.

"Settlers" will be in theaters and On Demand July 23rd.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.