Helmed by Wyatt Rockefeller and performed by a brilliant cast ensemble including Sofia Boutella and Ismael Cruz Cordova, ‘Settlers’ is a brooding sci-fi thriller parable with slow-burning intrigue. The tripartite story centers on a family who spends their days in a Mars colony’s hostile and dusty environment. Presumably, the story is set far ahead into the future when humans have created an atmosphere around Mars to make the planet habitable. But after a war in the future’s past, the population is sparse and scattered around the planet.
Remmy lives with her parents, Ilsa and Reza, in a small settlement in a valley-like enclave, but along comes the son of the previous owner of the settlement, hoping for a truce. The tale is gendered, and the plight of women in the bleak world provides the story’s backbone. Backed by an ambient score and told with patience, this sci-fi drama holds enough merit to be coveted by genre fans. The open-ended finale gives one something to chew on, and if you are wondering why the story ends the way it does, allow us to break down the ending moments before you. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Settlers Plot Synopsis
Remmy and her loving parents, Ilsa and Reza, live in an isolated settlement on Mars. With a pigsty and a greenhouse, they have just enough to subsist. The outer world is a hostile one, and Remmy wonders what’s outside. At night, Reza gives Remmy astronomy lessons. Some nights pass with humming and strumming as Ilsa picks up the guitar. But in the meantime, a menacing threat comes at their doorstep, asking them to leave the settlement.
Reza gets his gun out and ventures out into the barrenness. A group of mercenaries catches him by surprise. Even though Reza takes down two of the masked soldiers, he is assailed by a third. The assailant is Jerry, the son of the previous owner of the place. Jerry tries to instill some solidarity into the mother and the daughter, but the air remains tense with the passing away of Reza. Remmy makes friends with a robot and christens him Steve.
The days pass in pensive silence, and then, one day, Remmy sees her mother making love to Jerry in the greenhouse. Remmy is visibly upset, and Ilsa tries to talk to her about her feelings. In an attempt to flee from the settlement, Remmy ends up in a tunnel, but Jerry rescues her. The rift between the mother and the daughter widens when Ilsa sings her only song in front of Jerry. When Jerry submits his gun before Ilsa to make amends with Remmy, Ilsa creeps up from behind, pointing the gun at Jerry.
The gun is out of bullets, but Ilsa reaches out for her knife, tormented by her guilt. Jerry kills her. Remmy grows up into her late teens, and Jerry makes passes at her, reminding her that both of them have a responsibility. When Remmy resists, Jerry ties her to her bed and forces himself on her. But Steve, the robot, is intelligent enough to decide to slay Jerry. After Jerry’s death, Remmy repairs the robot and goes back to the tunnel to quench her curiosity.
Settlers Ending: Is There Anybody Out There?
This is the question that governs the science fiction story, much like others of the genre. Remmy has the hunch from her early childhood that there are strangers outside their settlement. Ilsa also probably has the same feeling, and she does not let Remmy go too far from the base, concluding that it is dangerous outside. Remmy’s hunch turns into a nightmarish reality when a group of mercenaries attacks the base. The outsiders write the word “LEAVE” in bold in front of the window to frighten the family. Ilsa is in a state of shock, and Reza goes out with a fully loaded gun to take care of the situation. He strikes down two of the militants but incurs a fatal blow at the hands of a third.
The third militant, we come to know, is Jerry, the old settler of the camp. Although Remmy adjusts to her new life with Jerry in the house, she still misses her father. When Remmy discovers Jerry and Ilsa kissing each other, she has all the more reasons to flee from the base. Remmy ends up in an artificial cave that leads to seemingly uncharted territory, but oxygen is low inside the cave, and Remmy falls senseless. Jerry rescues her and takes her back to the camp.
Sensing the curiosity of Remmy, Jerry affirms that there is nothing much outside, only sand and rocks. Jerry also says that there was a lot more to see in the early days of the settlement, but a past war has claimed quite a few lives. When Remmy says that she does not believe Jerry, he points out to her that the sunrises are getting bluer due to the artificial atmosphere eroding. According to Jerry, it is the twilight of Martian civilization, and it won’t be long before life on Mars comes to a dead-stop.
In the end, after the death of Jerry, Remmy goes back to the tunnel once more to serve her curiosity. She takes her oxygen mask and a few tanks to last her for the journey. We see her entering the tunnel once more, and this time, she makes the journey to the other side of the tunnel. There is blinding light at the end of the tunnel, but Remmy is greeted by vast barrenness as she comes out. We hope to see high-tech cities and spaceships, but the panoramic shot tells us that there is nothing outside apart from dusty maroon mountains. The door of the tunnel closes before Remmy, and the film ends there. Is there a civilization out there, or is Remmy alone on the hostile planet? The pieces of evidence suggest the latter.
Why Does Jerry Force Himself on Remmy? Is Jerry Dead?
At first glance, Jerry does not come off as a terrible person. On second thought, maybe he is. Although his initial instinct is protective, his primary agenda is to repopulate the planet. He makes advances at Ilsa, and Ilsa complies to protect her daughter. But tormented by her own guilt, Ilsa picks up the gun and points it at Jerry. The episode ends in tragedy, and while Jerry only incurs minor injury, Ilsa passes away, leaving Remmy in Jerry’s custody. Jerry takes care of Remmy till she grows up, but we come to know that his act is not as selfless as it seems.
One day, Jerry presents Remmy with a bound portrait of her mother before trying to kiss her. Remmy does not want him to come anywhere near her. Still, reasoning that both of them have a larger responsibility to bring new life to the sparsely populated planet, Jerry disregards Remmy’s (lack of) consent. Remmy makes it clear to Jerry that she cannot go through this ordeal ever. And when she attempts to run away, Jerry ties her to her bed.
Jerry desperately wants his line to continue, and therefore, tries to force himself on Remmy. Sensing Remmy’s life to be under threat, her loyal robot friend Steve injures Jerry. But Jerry is prompt to shoot the robot, and the robot becomes dysfunctional. Jerry’s masculinity sees Remmy helpless without his presence, but Remmy would agree to disagree. Therefore, Remmy takes the situation into her hands and shoots Jerry dead.
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