After Dark Horrorfest 2007: Borderland (Review)
Directed by Zev Berman
When the climax of your opening scene is ocular trauma, you’ve pretty much hooked me, no questions asked. And that’s how Borderland starts and continues until its chaotic, bloody end and in doing so makes it the best movie of the After Dark Horrorfest.
The story is about three high school grads Ed (Jake Muxworthy) our reluctant hero, Phil (Rider Strong “Cabin Fever”) our oversexed third wheel and Henry (Brian Presley) the cocky a**hole. They decide to head to Mexico to sow their oats before they all go off to college. Road trip anyone?
But what separates this movie becoming from a Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake or Hostel or Turistas, is the realism director Zev Berman injects into every aspect of the movie. The scenes of the border Mexican town are lively and chilling. The scenery is filled with docu-style visuals establishing 2 worlds, one where tourists visit and an underground where nobody dares speak of.
After Phil has an awkward situation with a Mexican “Kristen”, Ed meets a sexy, feisty bartender named Valeria. And that’s when the tourist world ends.
Soon after, one of them gets kidnapped by a drug cartel. But this is not an ordinary smuggling ring. They are a black magic obsessed drug dealers who believe that human sacrifice enables them to become “invisible” from authorities.
The 2 other gringos ask the authorities for help but are shunned. Instead they meet Ulises an ex cop who tells them about the cult, their location and agrees to help them free their friend.
The real surprise that had me shaking my head was Sean Astin (Rudy, LOTR) in a mind bending, defining role. As Randall, the unlikely American who keeps an eye on the hostage, Astin plays an evil, maniac brute. It’s an outstanding performance by Astin who plays this character to perfection.
With these stellar performances, we get our fill of gore and more gore. Arm chopping, machete splitting and some gruesome beheadings. These all are from our brainwashed cult members and our step up to the plate hero, Ed. The final scenes are frenetically paced, with a few good moments of suspense and an all out bullet ridden shootout finale.
Borderland works as both a crime thriller and horror movie that it actually raises both parts to ingenious levels. It’s stark realism and because it’s loosely tied to a true story that occurred in 1989 give it that truthiness feel. Borderland does not skimp out on the splatter, diligently gives us pieces to a horrific crime and creates a movie that has no definitive genre, making it borderless. That’s why it’s the perfect and best of all the Horrofest movies.
The extras are on this DVD are as good as it gets. There are only 2 features but both are great. The first is Inside Zev’s Head: A Filmmaker’s Diary. At 20 minutes, it’s a great day to day behind the scenes documentary of the making of the movie. Here you get to hear Zev Berman on his inspiration for the film, the on the set problems and his philosophy on making movies.
The other feature is Rituales de Sangre – The True Story Behind the Cult Murder Investigation. This 28 minute feature focuses on an interview with George Gavito, a former Deputy Sheriff from the Brownsville, Texas police. He gives a first hand account of the true crime and the investigation that followed. It was totally mesmerizing experience as they showed real footage of the Mexican ranch where these human sacrifice murders occurred. The amateur video also shows the men who carried out these crimes and the aftermath by Mexican Federales to take down the cult leader of the group.
There is also audio commentary with the director Zev Berman, actor Brian Presley, Director of Photography Scott Kevan and Producer Lauren Moews.
Included in all of the After Dark Horrorfest DVDs are the Miss Horrorfest Contest webisodes. Think Surreal Life meets the Misfits. It’s a VH1 version of the Suicide Girls.
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