The Borderlands (2013)

Directed By: Elliot Goldner
Written By: Elliot Goldner
Starring: Gordon Kennedy
  Robin Hill
  Aidan McArdle
The Borderlands

The Borderlands is yet another found footage movie. Yes, I know, I could almost hear you groan from here, but before you write it off, the most important thing you need to know about The Borderlands is that it’s a GOOD found footage movie.

Showing to rapturous applause at last years FrightFest but having missed it, I was keen to check out The Borderlands on DVD and it didn’t disappoint.

Set in the West Country, the story revolves around the rather archaic, but still prevalent practise of Catholic officials investigating supposed ‘miracles’. In this case, we’re quickly introduced to Gray; the agnostic techie, Deacon; the world weary old-hand and Mark; the uppity Irish priest hell-bent on debunking the claims and clearing out. There are one or two other characters but they’re given little screentime, so we’re left with the central trio who manage their roles well.
While a couple of the characters initially grate, and some of the acting seems a little too staged, I quickly forgot that and it became absorbing to watch the development of non-believers becoming doubtful of their initial dismissal of the strange goings on afoot.

Despite the found footage gimmick, the actual film is mercifully, mostly made up from head-cam footage which provides better clarity and fewer motion-sickness inducing shakes than we’re used to in this field. It’s occasionally frustratingly grainy and dark, but that’s also where some of the more frightening moments are derived from so it’s hard to find fault there.

Most of the ‘action’ takes place in a tiny chapel which proves immensely creepy, to say the least. It’s a ridiculously small location but utilised to great effect almost all of the time it’s on screen. Setting your film in a church immediately provides a wealth of moody atmosphere and this particular church almost becomes a character in it’s own right.

As with all found footage movies, there’s nothing in the way of a score, so there’s absolutely nothing to guide your emtions or break the mood so it’s easy to get sucked in and experience the mounting tension.

SPOILERS.

While the film is paced pretty well for the most part, I started to drift a little at the 70 minute mark, but the story is pulled quickly and firmly back on track for a remarkable ending that comes straight out of left-field and recalls the same sort of baffled, uneasy feeling I was left with after seeing Kill List for the first time.

It’s not an original story, but it’s one that’s told well, and the actors are all capable enough to make you believe. Found footage is showing no signs of going away and while it’s tiring to dig through the mire to find ones that are worthy of your time, The Borderlands definitely falls into that category.

It made me jump, it made me care and it left me scratching my head in the best possible way. The Borderlands is one of the best British films of last year and while it’s not groundbreaking stuff, it’s well worth your time.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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