THE BORDERLANDS (2013) Review – On Second Sight Blu-Ray

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Directed by Elliot Goldner
Screened at Grimmfest 2013
Now available on Second Sight Blu-Ray

Original Review from 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 adamant 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. 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.

Rating: ★★★★★

The Borderlands Second Sight Limited Edition Bluray

A decade after its release and The Borderlands has been blessed by the Second Sight Films treatment, which includes a limited edition release on Blu-Ray as well as a standard edition Blu-Ray. Both feature a small helping of special features on the disc, all except one which are brand new for this release, whilst the limited edition release also comes with a rigid slipcase with new artwork by Christopher Shy, six collector’s art cards, and a 70-page book with new essays by Tim Coleman, Martyn Conterio, Shellie McMurdo and Johnny Walker.

The Borderlands Blu-Ray Special Features

Audio Commentary with actors Robin Hill, Gordon Kennedy, producer Jennifer Handorf, and SFX designer Dan Martin

Robin, Gordon, Jennifer and Dan seem to have a blast reminiscing about the shoot of The Borderlands in this new audio commentary. Everything from the font of the opening title to the extras they worked with, the four give their opinion and talk about their memories of working on the film. They delve into some great details on the scene setup, the sound, locations and dialogue, and have time for a laugh in between. One of the most relaxed cast and crew commentaries I’ve heard in a while with plenty of playful jokes and humour between the commentators.

Dressed the Part – An Interview with Actors Robin Hill and Gordon Kennedy (30 mins 2 secs)

In this fun-filled new interview, Robin Hill and Gordon Kennedy, who play Gray and Deacon respectively, talk about how they got involved with The Borderlands, the ‘wardrobe fitting’ for their characters (which ended up being identical to what they were wearing), and shooting the film. These two are a hoot together, ribbing each other throughout the interview which takes place in a church in England which was used for the ‘South American scene’ early on in the film. A relaxed interview with two stars who generously share their experience.

Losing Faith – An Interview with Producer Jennifer Handorf (30 mins 11 secs)

In this new interview, Jennifer Handorf discusses how she got involved with the project at an early stage, thanks to now defunct Metrodome and a previous movie she was involved with called The Devil’s Business. Known for being able to produce a quality film on low budget, she join The Borderlands as producer and found the idea of making a found footage film a fun challenge. She discusses the issues of making a found footage film at that time, especially as interest in the sub-genre itself was starting to wane and how they had to break through the image of what found footage had eventually become as The Borderlands was so much different. Jennifer talks about the many iterations of the film script before it became what we see on screen, with even the improvisation from Robin and Gordon reshaping the story in some ways. A fascinating interview on the making of the film and the experience of shooting in the church location.

Monster Goo – An Interview with Special Effects Designer Dan Martin (15 mins 41 secs)

In this fun new segment, SFX designer Dan Martin gives an introduction to slimes in his workshop, showing how to make slime with the various options available on the market. This is great for anyone wanting to make their own slime for a movie or simply for fun. Afterwards, he sits down for an interview to discuss his involvement in The Borderlands and details his input into the effects, prosthetics, and the rigs on-set, such as the crucifix rig.

Archive Featurette – Behind The Scenes (31 mins 38 secs)

In this archival featurette, director Elliot Goldner, the cast and producer Jennifer Handorf talk about making the film, the locations, faith and religion and an unlikely duo in Gray and Deacon. Most of the footage is interview style with the odd on-set clip injected between.

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About Bat 4417 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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