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The Borderlands Review

Review: The Borderlands / Cert: TBC / Director: Elliot Goldner / Screenplay: Elliot Goldner / Starring: Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill, Aidan McArdle / Release Date: TBC

Two Vatican representatives, Deacon (Kennedy) and Gray (Hill), accompanied by sceptical technician Mark (McArdle), are sent to a rural West Country church, to investigate the legitimacy of a supposed miracle. What they find there rocks their faith to its foundations, changing their lives forever.

We must admit to wondering whether we're on the same planet as everyone else where modern horror films are concerned. Take for instance The Borderlands, the acclaimed new indie Brit chiller from writer/director Elliot Goldner. Reading the synopsis and taking its sinister advertising poster into account, all the elements required for a disturbing foray into the realms of cinematic terror would appear to be in place.

It doesn't take long after this film starts however, for it to fall into many of the traps fast becoming clichés in contemporary horror. For a short while following the release of The Blair Witch Project – say a couple of years max – the found footage format still seemed original, particularly in the horror genre where it added an extra touch of the unexpected to proceedings. Now however, almost fifteen years after the release of that groundbreaking film, anything using this approach appears done-to-death and lacking in originality. Admittedly The Borderlands tries a fresh twist, filming proceedings through small headband-mounted cameras worn by the Vatican representatives investigating the strange happenings in the small church in England's West Country. Unfortunately it soon becomes more of a distraction from the proceedings, rather than enhancing the film's overall ambience. Add to this the modern habit in the horror genre of shooting everything in semi to total darkness – has no one ever heard of turning on the light? – and the result leaves you praying for the protagonists to get on the first train back to civilisation.

This film's other major weakness is its unimaginative script. Now it's fair to say that in a state of shock, the majority of people will express themselves with the occasional expletive. However, as in real life, if 'colourful' language is the only way you know how to speak, as appears to be the case with the cast here, then the same language loses much of its bite when you actually find your back against the wall. The result here leaves the viewer hankering after the old days, when writers believed in the adage 'the less said (and shown), the better'.

The Borderlands had the potential to be a clever exercise in atmosphere and tension – which admittedly it achieves to some degree through its rural West Country setting and the occasional (standard) jump inducing sequence – but ultimately misses the mark with its pedestrian and predictable plot beats and mise-en-scene.

Expected Rating: 7 out of 10

Actual Rating:

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