There hasn't been a decent human-sacrifice by Satanists horror film in some time. Why is it this genre seems to go so well with southern border towns? The last flick of this ilk that immediately springs to mind is the long since forgotten "Enter the Devil". So, in 2007, it was about time.
"Borderland," set in a border town inside Mexico where lawlessness reigns, certainly has more than a passing resemblance to Eli Roth's "Hostel" during its first half hour. Three guys leave student partying in the U.S. to head to Mexico where they can really get it on with prostitutes, strippers and the like.
After a night of mushroom-enhanced debauchery at a Mexican amusement park one of their number is kidnapped by a group of Satanists looking for a soft American for an upcoming full-moon sacrifice, the remaining two – a nice guy who is rejecting Stanford to go become a volunteer (Brian Presley) and a party animal (Jake Muxworthy) – are on their own to find him.
The local police won't help: The satan worshippers are supported by drug runners, and the police don't want to have anything to do with the problem, even though residents of the border town frequently disappear. Marco Bacuzzi is quite freaky as one of the lead satan worshippers – a very high-cheek-boned bald guy who looks like he was born to play in horror movies.
Our college-age heroes, who are working with a Mexican gal pal (Martha Higareda) and her spiritualist cousin, begin to understand the cult that was behind their buddy's kidnapping and eventually get help from one aging renegade cop (Damián Alcázar) whose partner was killed off by the cult in the first scene of the movie.
Ultimately, it's hard not to watch "Borderland" and think about how much better "Hostel" is, but this film does deliver some genuinely terrifying moments, including a brutal rooftop chase and lots of shaky cam insanity near the cult's campground. Sean Astin shows up as a gringo in the cult, and delivers an earnest performance that raises the movie up a notch. Some of the cast – most notably Presley and Martha – are too pretty and look like they just walked off a TV set. Also, the film seems like it is pulling some punches. Compared to "Hostel", it just ain't that gut churning.
But, all in all, "Borderland" is a pretty scary movie. And although based loosely on true events, it's for the most part fiction. Worth renting at least, but don't wait for "Borderland 2."
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