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From the guy who brought us the unnervingly realistic and tense 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)' comes another genre effort by director John McNaughton, but you can call 'The Borrower' somewhat a total change of pace. Its ridiculous premise bathes itself in hysteria, cheese and an overpowering metallic soundtrack. A true step-down, but the angle has changed for this low-budget outing in favour of a black comedy with a less than serious tone and horrifically in-your-face FX work. It kind reminded of the similar themed 'The Hidden (1987)', which seemed to be a trend-setter for many that followed ('Dark Angel and 'Split Second' shoot to mind) involving cops on the trail of a serial killer that may be of extra-terrestrial origins.
A criminal alien is genetically devolved and vanquished to earth in human form. There he discovers that his head has a habit of exploding, forcing him to find another replacement and eventually another one. Police detectives Diana Pierce and her partner Charlie Krieger find themselves on the case of this very demented serial killer who likes to take the heads of the victim, but soon they realise there might be more to this case.
As it is it's a mildly fun b-grade romp with numerous moments of flamboyantly gooey head explosions and tearing off heads (kind of like that in 1979 film 'The Dark') to only borrow them. Strangely when the alien does do that, the body changes too, even though its only should be the head. Whoops. The idea shows a breath imagination, but McNaughton's duplicated handling of it is simply disappointing and never variable enough. Even the social element is weakly penned. Other than those unconventional graphic scenes, nothing much tends to happen from its slight structure. It suffers from a languishing last quarter, muddled writing with a redundant sub-plot (though it does tie in at the end but why?) involving another killer and one of the cops. Even the lighting is so smoky, or some sequences are paved in darkness making it hard to work out certain details. While the action when it occurs is frenetic, there's nothing beating its systematic feel and where we are left with an incomplete feel due to its cop-out ending after rattling climax.
Rae Dawn Chong emit's an uninterestingly sullen temperament as detective Pierce and a grizzled Don Gordon is fine as detective Krieger. The support fairs up much better with a delightfully amusing Tom Towles and Antonio Fargas steals some scenes.
'The Borrower' is moderate entertainment due largely to the make-up FX, but ends up being bounded in its bizarre concept and plodding narrative.
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