Atmosphere and immersion. Two things that can really pull someone in and get under their skin. The Borderlands is the perfect example of utilising these aspects to create a genuinely unnerving found-footage horror.
A silent town with a sinister past, hiding under the guise of the paranormal. Three men are tasked with investigating a church in this town, responsible for mysteries that one cannot even begin to comprehend. Striking at atmospheric chords through an investigative lens, the film creates tension in its perfect form: giving the viewer a feeling that something is “off”.
The film’s atmosphere creates an exciting level of immersion that grants the viewer the ability to feel as if they were there, giving a creeping sense of unease. The little bits of creepiness are effective in their role of creating tension and paving the way for a steady build-up to the film’s final act, which is abrupt in an excellent way, concluding with an unexpected ending that is both shocking and fitting.
The audience’s attention would not have been grasped without giving personality to the main characters, however, as the two men who conduct the investigation are an unlikely pair of people who are easy to understand and are given a layer of believability through their actors’ impeccable performances. A lot of their exchanges and much of their personalities are easy to like, and their perspectives on the film’s Lovecraftian mystery are easily relatable and sincere.
Lovecraftian? Yes, the film adopts a very Lovecraftian-feel, especially with elements of mythology that are tied to the abyss of the unknown. The film does not wear its influence on its sleeve, though, and keeps to a much more subdued portrayal of the elements shown.
All in all, The Borderlands proves to be an excellent found-footage horror that is much more than its premise. Its atmosphere that gives a deep sense of immersion is incredible at creating a film that knows what it wants and gives the audience a perfectly enjoyable horror film, with an ending that punches you right in the gut.