THE BORDERLANDS (2013)
Directed by Elliot Goldner
Screened at Grimmfest 2013
Deacon, a Vatican investigator makes his way to a church in the West Country after reports of a unexplained phenomenon occurring within. Aiding him in his investigation is tech-head Gray, who’s sound and recording equipment will help Deacon capture evidence of the so called ‘miracle’. The duo are ordered to wear head-cams at all times to document the investigation, which will be used as evidence for or against the claims of a miracle. With hostile villagers and a priest who’s adament of God’s intervention and presence, religious yet cynical Deacon must uncover the truth, but is it one he can handle?
My first knowledge of The Borderlands was the fact that our reviewer and news editor Matt Wavish missed out on sold out tickets for the screening at this year’s Frightfest. “Sold out?”, I thought. It must be good! So when I received the programme for Manchester’s film festival, Grimmfest 2013, and it was featuring the film at a prime time evening slot, I couldn’t have been more excited and intrigued about how this film would unfold. Let me tell you now, if you love The Wicker Man, you’ll love The Borderlands. Possibly the best film of that ‘genre’ since The Wicker Man. I bet that got your attention, didn’t it? Do read on!
The beginning of the film focuses on Deacon and Gray, two men from two different industries who’ve never met each other before. Scottish Deacon spends his time travelling the world, assessing and debunking so-called miracles on behalf of the Vatican. Though he’s a religious man, he knows the lengths some people will go to to claim a miracle in their town and suspects that Father Crellick’s miracle is nothing but a cry for attention for his failing parish. Deacon is excellent at his job, but he’s worn out from the strain of his past investigations and possibly likes a drink or two too much, but who could blame him when he’s paired with gobby Londoner, Gray, who’s enthusiasm for the investigation grates with Deacon’s approach. The chemistry between Deacon and Gray, played remarkably by Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill respectively, is probably one of the best on-screen partnerships this year, with the duo totally mismatched in personalities yet somehow finding a common ground. Whilst you would expect that the two would kick off, they in fact become very good friends as the movie progresses, even teaming up against bossy boots Father Mark, who eventually turns up to lead the investigation.
Arriving at the church, Gray installs static and motion-sensor cameras to record any ‘strange goings on’ that may occur, whilst the team investigate for possible sources or explanations for Father Crellick’s unexplained experiences. Whilst at first it appears that Father Crellick is just some fame-hungry priest, Deacon is convinced that there’s something else going on as the team experience increasingly strange occurrences during their stay. Father Mark dispels Deacon’s theories and wishes the case to be wrapped up asap so they can move on. But is there more going on than we think?
THE BORDERLANDS is the finest horror of 2013. Breathtakingly eerie, the film had me engaged throughout, from Gray’s hilarious cursing and jokes to the more spooky and sinister happenings at the church. Though classed as a found footage movie, this is far from the shaky cam productions we are used to. Instead, the cinematography is incredibly steady, especially with the ‘cameras’ installed within the church. A novel take using head-cams is also an advantage to the film’s plot as the characters are forced to film everything they do, so when the weird stuff starts to happen, they don’t just ‘conveniently’ have a camcorder to hand. The head-cams are also more steady and clearer than the usual hand-held, which makes for better viewing and POV shots.
With a fantastic cast giving their characters unique, believable personalities, along with a stellar script and engrossing direction from Elliot Goldner, THE BORDERLANDS revitalises the art of storytelling within a horror movie. Quite frankly, this is the best British feature film I’ve seen in a long time. You’d be mad to miss it.
Available from Amazon