Emily buys a rundown house near to the hospital where her brother Zach, afflicted with cerebral palsy, will soon begin treatment. With her boyfriend and two friends in tow, the five of them arrive at her new home. Unfortunately, nobody thought to mention what happened to the previous occupants, and now their arrival has awakened a dormant and malevolent power.
At first glance, Bornless Ones seems to have little to distinguish itself, appearing to be yet another by-the-numbers cabin in the woods flick destined to become lost amidst the miasma of countless similar low-budget genre efforts. However, at the very least it’s a far better Evil Dead than that film’s own recent remake, and acquits itself admirably with a talented execution.
It’s not as widely understood as it should be that horror movies are made compelling by interesting characters rather than innovative premises, and it’s in this regard that Bornless Ones rises far beyond the average. Although the central quintet are an assortment of familiar archetypes, each is infused with a recognisable personality that makes them compelling enough to become invested in their fate, for good or ill. In particular, Zach’s cerebral palsy is a welcome human touch to the film’s setup that could easily have just been five twentysomethings heading off for a weekend of partying, and the specifics of the condition become significant to how events develop.
Before long, they each become tormented by whispering voices taunting them with their personal fears and forcing out their hidden shames. With each new revelation, your perception of the character alters, forcing you to re-evaluate how much sympathy they actually deserve. Things get progressively worse and decidedly more gruesome from there, as blood and guts both begin to be spilt along with everyone’s dark secrets.
The film largely eschews CGI in favour of practical effects, and is all the more effective as a result, bringing a raw physicality and brutal lack of restraint to the demonic chaos. The already sinister atmosphere is augmented by some high contrast of light and shadow, so even during moments that the malicious entities are absent, the unease of their oppressive presence is still felt.
A little more exploration into the story’s background mythology to better understand what’s going on wouldn’t have gone amiss, and since the film is relatively short as it is, some deviation into what drives the demons wouldn’t have made the plot drag. Although that said, at one point the sibilant seething of one of them is rather amusingly cut off just as it’s about to launch into an expository monologue.
An engaging tale of manipulations and mutilations that transcends most similar contemporary efforts, Bornless Ones possesses enough of a distinct identity to be of interest even to those who feel they’ve seen it all before.
BORNLESS ONES / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ALEXANDER BABAEV / STARRING: MARGARET JUDSON, DEVIN GOODSELL, MICHAEL JOHNSTON, MARK FURZE, BOBBY T / RELEASE DATE: 10TH FEBRUARY (US); UK RELEASE TBA