Review: Borderlands

First off: I didn’t pick this one myself. Knowing what it was about, I probably would have left it on the shelf, because torture-porn isn’t really my kind of horror. But the wife(!) rented this one thinking that I might like it, so I was sort of obligated to give it a try.

Well, it wasn’t a complete waste of time, but I could think of a lot of other things I would have enjoyed better than most of this movie.

The Plot: Three young male Americans on vacation fall victim to a Mexican voodoo cult operating in the “borderlands” between Mexico and the US. The cult kidnaps one of the unlucky trio, and the other two try to get him back with the help (or not) of the locals… particularly a nice-looking girl that one of them has fallen in love with. Essentially this movie is trying to be a cross between “Hostel” and “Serpent and the Rainbow”. It tries.

It fails.

Only two people actually get “tortured” in this movie, and one of them is a throw-away character at the beginning of the film. The actual tortures are a far cry from what was seen in films like “Hostel,” and the supernatural vibe is pretty much gutted by the fact that nothing supernatural actually happens in the film.

The Characters: This one kinda-smart guy. His dumbass friend. And the guy who gets kidnapped. And the girl. Rounding up the bad guys, there are The creepy Cult Leader who really isn’t creepy until that one scene where… I won’t spoil it. He has an “assistant” of sorts thats actually much creepier (and deadlier), which is good because he gets most of the bad-guy screen time. Then there’s the American Dumbass Cultist, who is actually entertaining despite the fact that he essentially does nothing and, at the end, gets the fate that should have been handed out to all the OTHER cult members instead. That’s all you need to know.

I was bored for most of this movie. The part at the beginning was kinda good, and the ending was also decent. The climax consists of an armed raid on the cultist camp, followed by the cultists’ revenge-raid on the heroes. The most disturbing scene for me was the rooftop machete dance, which showed very little in the way of gore. It, too, happened toward the end of the film. Everything between these moments put me to sleep.

-8: Torture sequences are disturbing… if short and sparse.
+5: Cultists with machetes. Not a pleasant way to go.
+3: That one cultist guy with the bald head.
+2: That thing the lead-cultist guy did.

-10: Long stretches of this movie are boring.
-8: For a “torture and voodoo” movie, there sure wasn’t a lot of torture. Or voodoo.
-3: Big-bad cult leader was MUCH less interesting than his followers.
-1: This movie could have used a LOT more T&A.

Final Cut: There are a few good scenes in this movie. Everything else didn’t exactly SUCK… but it wasn’t all that interesting, either. If they could string those good scenes together with a tighter, faster-paced story and a lot more tension/horror, then they’d have a winner. As it is, it is a “Hostel” or “Turistas” pretender that is a far cry from what it pretends to be. Pass on this one. Or, if not, just watch the beginning and then fast forward until you get to the part on the roof. Everything between those two points isn’t worth watching.


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