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Borderland
IMDB Rating: 5.6/10 from 16 votes
Release: 9 April 2009 (Mexico) /

Borderland

Genre: Crime, Horror, Thriller
Director: Eric Poppen,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Three college students, Phil, Ed, and Henry take a road trip into Mexico for a week of drinking and carefree fun only to have Phil find himself a captive of a group of satanic Mexican drug smugglers who kill tourists and whom are looking for a group of new ones to prepare for a sacrifice. Written by Anonymous

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Critic Reviews


I have a problem with the new genre of "torture porn" that has muscled its way into the horror movie limelight with such movies as Hostel and Touristas. It's sick, repugnant, and of virtually no redeeming value, and yet, like a moth to a flame, I can't bring myself to not watch it, even though I end up cursing myself for subjugating my mind to its imagery afterward.

Such was the case when the 2007 edition of Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival scheduled a screening of Borderland. I found myself driving downtown muttering to myself how I was going to regret this. And truth be told, I almost did, except that the movie came packaged in a fully fleshed out story (pun intended) that had the added impact of having been based on a true story.

In 1989, Mexican police unearthed 12 bodies in the town of Matamoros. Their brains and spinal cords had been removed. It was later determined that a gang of drug smugglers had been practicing their own form of Santeria, a religious hybrid of Catholicism and African religions, similar to Voodoo. The leader of the gang, Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, was worshiped as a living god by his followers and practiced the ritual sacrifice of wayward individuals in the belief that the gods would make them invisible to the police as they went about their drug smuggling operation.

This is the backdrop that Borderland sets itself against as it tells the tale of a trio of Americans from Texas who head for a short stay in Mexico to indulge in some fast women and cheap booze. Along the way they hook up with a stunning and resourcefully independent Mexican barmaid played by Martha Higareda (soon to be seen alongside Keanu Reeves and Hugh Laurie in The Night Watchmen) and, as fate would have it, cross paths with members of the gang. The movie also delivers some truly twisted casting as Sean Austin of Lord of the Rings renown takes a villainous turn as the lone American member of the Santeria drug gang.

Director Zev Berman, for whom this movie marks only his third stint holding the directorial reigns, does a remarkably good job keeping the pacing tight and focused, blending a nice mix of story, action and (I hate to say it) gore, even though it's this latter part that I dearly wish could be toned down. The version I saw had not yet been rated by the MPAA so if there's any hope, the more unnecessarily gory parts of it will be excised before it gets given its cinematic release. While I'm no advocate of censorship, some of the gorier shots were just plain gratuitous. Berman would do well to re-cut the movie taking a cue from the original Saw (as opposed to the sequels), which illustrated just how gory you could make a movie while showing so little.

Still, Borderland plays out to a satisfying pay off, and never let my interest flag along the way, even if it did have me watching large chunks (pun intended, again) through my fingers, which, I suppose, is a good thing for some folks.

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