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The Borderlands (Blu-ray Review)

3 min read
The Borderlands

Image: © Second Sight

The central conceit of a found footage film is that the characters would continue filming despite whatever chaos befalls them. In many of these films, there is that suspension of disbelief that, yes, a victim running for their life would keep lugging a camera about, leaving them with the use of a single hand through their various toils. A fair point made by actor Robin Hill is that, in The Borderlands, the characters are wearing camera headsets, which means they are essentially hands-free. Their point-of-view shots are intercut with cameras located around the church that they are investigating. This provides a perhaps less contrived-than-usual approach to the genre. 

This does push The Borderlands more into the Paranormal Activity school of than the frantic, emotional, and ‘in the action' style of Cloverfield. But this is not to its detriment. 

The Borderlands opens with the aftereffects of an investigation into a supposed miracle in a church in Brazil. We are then sent to a remote country church in England where Father Crellick (Luke Neal) claims to have had a holy experience during a baptism. The footage sent to Deacon (Gordon Kennedy)—a sceptical investigator for the church—and Gray (Robin Hill)—a more open-minded tech guy who is mostly there for easy money—is impressive. But all of it can be explained with camera trickery, magnets, and hidden speakers. Their initial investigation assumes everything happening is all a trick. But as they eliminate the possible causes one by one, it begins to look like there might genuinely be something unholy lurking beneath their feet. 

The Borderlands ultimately does little you haven't seen before in other found footage movies, but pulls it off very effectively. On initial release renowned fan Mark Kermode commented that he was tempted to leave the cinema, so unsettled he was, and that is understandable. The Borderlands has some genuinely creepy moments underpinned by its Lovecraftian subplot. The final few minutes are surprising and gruesome in equal measure, offering a bit of a genre shift that could be either welcomed or distracting, depending on your perspective. Its biggest problem perhaps is how annoying one of the lead characters is; Gray talks shite, and a lot of it. But he is well balanced by grumpy day drinker Deacon.

The disc has a small selection of bonus features. There are no video essays unfortunately on this occasion, but the interview with Hill and Kennedy is worth a watch, if only to show that Hill is essentially playing himself. It is still a bit of a sparse selection considering what Second Sight are often able to produce. 

The Borderlands and its Blu-ray release are decent if not brilliant. Sitting comfortably among their lesser releases, and with its and pacey charm, it's definitely worth a watch. 

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 is released on Limited Edition Blu-ray by Second Sight on 15th April 2024.