I’m struck by the thought, after the first five minutes of The Borderlands, that I may be about to watch another sub-par found footage film. It’s a genre which periodically unearths the odd diamond in the rough, but for the most part is littered with the corpses of enthusiastic failures. Thankfully, I had no need to worry as Metrodome’s first foray into production turns out to be a little gem.
A team of Vatican investigators is sent to the West Country following reports of paranormal activity at a remote church. Gray (Robin Hill) is the tech guy who is employed to assist Deacon (Gordon Kennedy) with the investigation. They’ve been called in by the local Priest to investigate a “Miracle”. Whilst the duo form an unlikely bond, the arrival of group leader Mark (Aidan McArdle), along with a series of mysterious and unsettling events, lead them into the unknown.
The Borderlands starts slowly but works on several levels. Director Elliot Goldner skilfully avoids the normal pitfalls encountered with this subset of film. Its strongest attribute is the natural screen chemistry and charisma of the two leads. Instead of either discarding all character development or front-loading it which seems sadly de rigueur, their relationship is allowed to develop naturally, adding the vital element of realism to the feature.
The reliance on a set number of mini cameras can often be a hindrance, but the decision to use headcams allows a plethora of new possibilities. Instead of relying on cheap frights or excessive gore, The Borderlands allows the tension to subtly build, throwing in the odd shock here and there to keep even the most weathered horror fan on their toes. The location does much to add to the whole ambiance, possessing its own naturally creepy aura.
Robin Hill was in Kill List and the ending, whilst completely different, left me with a similarly perplexed feeling. The Borderlands builds up excellently, sucks you in and slowly nestles under your skin. The dénouement throws a slight curveball which will likely split audiences, but in no way detracts from what is an excellent addition to the genre.
The Borderlands has a limited theatrical release on Friday 28th March, and will be playing exclusive shows in regional cinemas that day via the Our Screen program. If you want to see it in Edinburgh, Liverpool, Norwich, Brighton or London then you can purchase tickets here:
The DVD is released via Metrodome on 7th April and can be purchased from Amazon.