The Borderlands (2013) – Film Review

The Borderlands Film Review

Director: Elliot Goldner
Cast: Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill, Aidan McArdle
Certificate: 15

By Sarah Morgan

Director Ruggero Deodato has a lot to answer for. He made the notorious ‘video nasty’ Cannibal Holocaust, which is widely regarded as the first found footage horror movie.

The format has been rather overused since, but there are some standout titles within the genre, including The Blair Witch Project, which really popularised the method, as well as the Paranormal Activity franchise, REC and Cloverfield.

The Borderlands Film Review

The year 2013 seems to have been a golden period for such films, with the likes of V/H/S/2, Willow Creek and A Haunted House just a handful among many titles. One of the better of them is The Borderlands, writer-director Elliot Goldner’s feature debut, which is set in rural Cornwall.

“Reports of a miracle”

Gordon Kennedy (yes, the bloke who used to present the National Lottery programme back in its early days) and Robin Hill head the cast as Deacon, a cynical, world-weary religious brother, and Gray, a rather annoying agnostic tech expert. They’ve been brought together by the Vatican, whose leaders want them to investigate reports of a miracle in a recently re-consecrated church with a dark past.

Joining them is Father Mark, a pompous priest; he and Deacon are sure they’re going to debunk whatever they find because that’s what they’ve done on countless occasions in the past. But as time goes on, and the phenomena become increasingly violent and weird, it becomes clear that something very strange indeed is going on.

Add to that a burning sheep outside their digs, the suicide of the resident priest and Deacon’s past misdeeds, and you get a quietly unsettling story that builds up to a horrifying and surprising conclusion.

The Borderlands Film Review

“Genuinely creeped out”

On the film’s initial release, famed critic Mark Kermode claimed to have been genuinely creeped out by what he saw on screen. I can’t say it had the same impact on me, but maybe, more than a decade and several other found footage films on, I’m a little jaded by the format.

Having said that, I’ve got to admit that it’s one of the best examples of the genre I’ve seen, and Goldner does manage to build tension, both between the characters and within the story, despite clearly working on a shoestring budget.

Kennedy, perhaps better known for his comedy work than drama, is a revelation as Deacon. Hill is really an editor who acts only part-time, but he makes a decent foil for his more experienced colleague. The other notable members of cast are Aidan McArdle, who’s slightly underused as Father Mark, and veteran actor Patrick Godfrey, who has a small but telling role as Deacon’s mentor, Father Calvino, who may regret agreeing to perform an exorcism at the church…

Special features include a recently filmed interview with Kennedy and Hill, in which they look back at the making of The Borderlands, as well as a glimpse behind the scenes during its production and a revealing interview with producer Jennifer Handorf.

  • Special Features
    • New audio commentary by Actors Robin Hill and Gordon Kennedy, Producer Jennifer Handorf and Special Effects Artist Dan Martin
    • Dressed the Part: a new interview with Robin Hill and Gordon Kennedy
    • Losing Faith: a new interview with Jennifer Handorf
    • Monster Goo: a new interview with Dan Martin
    • Archive featurette: Behind the Scenes
  • Limited Edition Contents
    • Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Christopher Shy
    • 70-page book with new essays by Tim Coleman, Martyn Conterio, Shellie McMurdo and Johnny Walker
    • 6 collectors' art cards
The Borderlands Limited Edition and Standard Blu-ray version is available from Second Sight

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