I’m pretty tired of the found footage sub genre that has permeated the horror scene over the last few years. With a few exceptions, this has a pretty atrocious track record. Low budget filmmakers have used the gimmick as a way of covering the tracks of poor storytelling, while obscuring their lack of finesse behind the camera. Therefore, I went into Brit-horror The Borderlands with a huge amount of trepidation. It turned out to be a surprisingly well made movie featuring solid performances and great tension. It turns out that you shouldn’t judge a horror movie by its synopsis. Speaking of which…
The Borderlands follows a team (can three men be considered a team?) of Vatican investigators as they attempt to see if the strange goings on in a small village church are a miracle or a man-made marvel. Writer/director Elliot Goldner sets things up well, getting the ‘found footage’ idea planted in the mind audience’s mind at the start of the movie. The main issue with the gimmick usually comes across as strained, it always feels false – why would anyone in danger want to record what is happening rather than getting the hell out of Dodge? However, Goldner makes the concept feel organic, then he moves on, getting into character development – something which is usually ignored in the horror genre.
Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill make an interring duo as a pair of paranormal investigators from different backgrounds. The film works because their friendship feels real. Kennedy is a gruff Scot, with religious beliefs, while Hill is a wise-cracking tech-geek with no interest in religion. The duo’s chemistry keeps The Borderlands grounded – keeping the feeling that it belongs in the real world.
In lesser hands The Boderlands could have been a terrible movie about things which go bump in the night, but Elliott Garner and his cast keep things on the right side of believable. They must be applauded for delivering something that has the right amount of scares and humour. They build-up audience goodwill – and this helps to cover over a few plot gaps and storytelling missteps – and that’s how you deliver a good horror movie.
The Borderlands comes with a great ‘behind the scenes’ piece that features interviews with writer/director Elliott Gardner. stars Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill and producer Jennifer Handorf. It’s a good feature that complements the movie.