Distributor: Metrodome Distribution
BBFC Classification: 15
Director: Elliot Goldner
Starring: Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill, Aidan McArdle, Sarah Annis, Lee Arnold, Luke Neal
Oh good, more found footage nonsense set in the British countryside. We need more of them, don’t we? Well, no we don’t but what we do need are ones that actually have more in the way of content rather than the seemingly obligatory two-or-three-people-running-around-in-the-dark-with-a-night-vision-camera-screaming-at-nothing-for-90-minutes, so does The Borderlands offer anything different from what we’ve seen already? Sort of.
Technical engineer Gray (Robin Hill – Kill List) has accepted a job from the Vatican to help investigate a 12th century church in rural Devon. Joining him are world-weary Deacon (Gordon Kennedy – Hacks) and Vatican priest Mark (Aidan McArdle – The Duchess) to act as paranormal investigators on behalf of the Catholic Church, with all three men staying in a small, isolated cottage near to the church which, according to the parish priest Father Crellick (Luke Neal – Colditz), is being plagued by a malevolent presence.
So based on the premise alone, it’s a no as to the question of whether The Borderlands offers up anything new. But where the film does come up trumps is with the setting, the script and the cast, which are three things the limp and uninspired likes of The Paranormal Diaries: Clophill didn’t have. The film relies heavily on the interplay between Gray and Deacon, and to a lesser extent the interaction of Mark, the rational voice of authority for all intents and purposes, and Robin Hill and Gordon Kennedy both sell it totally. Despite their initial misgivings about each other Gray and Deacon come to depend on each other in the final act of the film when the proverbial hits the fan but it is the first hour of the film – traditionally the time in found footage where absolutely nothing happens and the characters have to try and sell the ‘terror’ they are experiencing to hold our attention – where the rapport between the two really grabs you and gets you invested.
Which it needs to because before we get to the bonkers final act there is a lot of going back and forth from the cottage to the church and a few found footage tropes that need to be adhered to, such as static on the cameras, weird locals and the odd jump scare just to keep you on your toes. It helps that the characters in the film are wearing head cameras rather than than running around with handheld cameras, which makes the film easier to watch than the jerky, night vision format that we normally have to endure, and by the time the main characters get to the final revelations it makes a change that the journey getting there wasn’t as headache-inducing as we have come to expect.
The Borderlands is the debut feature by writer/director Elliot Goldner and despite it falling into genre trappings here and there, it does show a little promise as Goldner is clearly trying to add a little something extra to a well-worn formula, and whilst the end result isn’t the mind-blowing experience that prime found footage films like [REC] offer it is at least aiming in the right direction, making The Borderlands a contender for the strongest British found footage film we’ve seen so far.
Special Features: Cast & crew interviews.
UK Release Date: 7th April 2014