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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
A horrifying, gory thriller that chills to the bone
I attended the World Premiere of Borderland at the 2007 SXSW Film Festival. The fact that this was in the midnight screenings section should say a lot right off the bat. But what made this horror film so horrifying is that it all really happened.
Borderland is based on the true story of ritual sacrifice killings conducted by a group of drug dealers in Mexico a few years back. The story centers around Phil, chillingly played by Rider Strong (Boy Meets World, Cabin Fever). Phil and two of his college buddies are spending some quality time just across the Mexican border before shipping off to grad school. Strong is one of those actors who, having started very young, has such a naturalistic acting style that his performance here was frightening on many levels.
The Q&A with director Zev Berman and cast members Rider Strong and Brian Presley ended close to 3 AM, about as long as any I can remember, and could have gone on all night. It was amazing how much of a stickler Berman was for being faithful to the story. It's hard to believe that some of the torture scenes really took place. But that's what makes it so gripping. It's one of the most gruesome films I've seen, and would be right up there with some of the most shocking horror/slasher/thrillers to come out lately, if not for the fact that it all really happened. There have been many films at recent festivals which have been very hard to watch, and this was no exception. It was an intense experience. But it absolutely has to be known going in that it is a true story, because otherwise some of the scenes would strain credulity.
I hope it can find an audience, because it might be too tough for the highbrow crowd yet not as darkly comedic as most slasher flicks are to satisfy the horror crowd. I did see one film similarly horrific this year, An American Crime at Sundance. It also plays out a shocking true story without pulling any punches. But Borderland is more "entertaining," if that makes sense, because there is at least a genre that it falls into neatly. Anyone who loves a good gory thriller will enjoy it. But once they are aware it all really happened, they will be chilled to the bone.
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