Lake Dead / The Deaths of Ian Stone / Unearthed
Crazy Eights / Tooth & Nail / Nightmare Man / Borderland

STUDIO: Lions Gate
MSRP: $14.99
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

  • Miss Horrofest 2007 Contest webisodes
  • Commentary by director Zev Berman, Brian Presley, cinematographer Scott Kevan and producer Lauren Moews
  • Inside Zev’s Head featurette
  • Rituales de Sangre featurette

The Pitch

Está del Hostel sur de la frontera, ese.

The Humans

Brian Presley, Martha Higareda, Jake Muxworthy, Rider Strong, Damian Alcazar, Beto Cuevas, Sean Astin.

“So you’re going to go kick it with this hot Latina chick.”
“That’s the plan.”
“Whadda ya got planned?”
“I’m going to eat Mexican.”
“Good idea.  I recommend the burritos in this joint down the street.”
“That ain’t what I meant…”

The Nutshell

Three college buddies trek down into Mexico on the eve of splitting up for their respective grad school destinations for one last romp together. They sample the local booze, cuisine, drugs and women. But when they come across drug dealers with a penchant for voodoo and human sacrifice, they quickly discover they’ve crossed more than just one border.

  Godfather has nothing on these guys, that’s for sure… 

The Lowdown

So far, hands down, Borderland is the best of the After Dark Horrorfest films I’ve seen. I still have a couple more to go, but they’re going to have to jump pretty high to reach the bar that’s been set by this film. The most obvious comparison that Borderland will come across is to Hostel, and for good reason. The set up is practically the same, the premise virtually identical, and it’s just about as gory as Eli Roth’s cautionary tale of a travel nightmare. In fact, this film parallels Hostel in so many ways that one might think that someone just took that film, moved the locale from Slovakia to Old Mexico, changed up a few details and let it rip. However, Borderland is based on true events, and with the stories I hear about some of the crap going on in Mexico right now – drug cartels running rampant, incredible corruption, kidnappings on a daily basis – I was a believer before I even saw the movie.

“Welcome to my home, gringo.  Do you know what ‘Voy a sacudir su ensalada, a rebanarla de sus bolas, y a utilizar su cráneo como cenicero’ means?
“Don’t worry, you’ll get the gist…”

The film is set up with two Mexico City detectives, Ulises (Alcazar) and his partner, Luis (Roberto Sosa) on the trail of “Papa” Santillan, a drug runner who’s a big believer in the power of voodoo and human sacrifice to serve his drug business. The detectives are jumped by Santillan’s minions and Ulises is forced to watch Luis get the slaughterhouse treatment in front of him. Cut to the three college friends Ed (Presley), Henry (Muxworthy) and Phil (Strong, in his second Horrorfest outing) as they prepare to cross the border for a good time in Mexico. Ed is the pensive type who’s thinking of blowing off post-grad work in Stanford for doing missionary work in Africa. Henry is his semi-asshole friend with a penchant for pot and a plan to get rich by getting into the offshore human cloning biz once he gets his MBA from the Wharton School of Business. And Phil is the geeky religious type who’s looking to get his cherry popped by the first Mexican hooker he can find.

“Okay, buddy, I’ll buy a bag of oranges, Jesus.”

Upon reaching the border town of Manzanita, they partake of the local delights, particularly a strip joint at which a hot local bartender, Valeria (the delectable Higareda). She’s a free spirit who shows them some of the sights, particularly her own to Ed.  Eventually however, Phil meets up with the wrong crowd ad gets hauled off kicking and screaming to Santillan’s ranch. It’s there he meets the erstwhile Sam Gamgee, Randall (Astin, doing his best scruffy, sweaty psycho killer disciple bit), who tells him that Santillan is going to use him to speak with the spirits. Ed, Valeria and Henry also run afoul of Santillan’s goons while searching for Phil and it’s not long before they all have death sentences on their heads. They meet up with Ulises, who’s now broken down and obsessed with getting Santillan. Together they head off to the ranch to try to save Phil, but not all of them will survive the attempt.

If you’re visiting Mexico and get offered head cheese, you might want to think about it…hard…

Writer / director Zev Berman does quite a nice job of keeping the narrative moving on this story and he has some nice visuals that give you a real sense of Mexico; and his tripping on shrooms in Mexico visuals are also pretty interesting.  He doesn’t try to exceed his mandate with getting into all of the back issue of how the voodoo cult came to be, their history, practices, etc. He just presents it that they’re there, they’ve been there, and you really don’t want to get to know them, which keeps the storyline pretty tight. You get a real feel for Mexico and its sordid underbelly, especially when Santillan’s machete-wielding gang runs into a hotel looking to do someone some serious bodily harm. Mexican drug gangs are one thing, but voodoo esses with Jason Voorhees’ weapon of choice is a whole other kind of bitch unto itself.

“Christ, Frodo!  All I said was maybe…maybe this Ring is affecting your mental status just a bit!”

The performances are fine and the story is much better served with keeping the number of vacationing friends to a threesome rather than a gaggle of twentysomethings that you know are going to get offed without having any sense of why we should care. We understand who Ed, Henry and Phil are and we don’t know who’s going to survive among them, if any. When Phil is abducted, Berman has Strong play him differently than I would have thought. Rather than being a simpering idiot begging for his life from the get-go, Phil tries to work an angle with Randall of both being American and chatting him up. Nice bit of characterization there I thought. Also, Higareda is also affecting as Valeria; she’s sexy and believable.  But of course, none of them outdo Astin, who gets to cut loose as the nutbag American expatriate, Randall. Considering that this is the director’s cut, there’s also some nice gore afoot here.

Muy, muy caliente.  Caramba.

Borderland will definitely draw comparisons to Hostel, and that’s deserved and it isn’t because Borderland does manage to be it’s own movie, with a different flavor altogether if you will. 


Berman uses a lot of ambers, yellows and oranges to represent Mexico and the film looks good in 2.35:1 and the sound is also nice in Dolby Digital. There’s English and Spanish subtitles, which are necessary as the sound does periodically get low.  Plus I can’t make with the Espanol very much beyond ordering a burrito at Taco Bell.  The Miss Horrorfest 2007 Contest webisodes are stuck on here also, but this disc has more features including a commentary by director Berman, Brian Presley, cinematographer Scott Kevan and producer Lauren Moews. There’s also a good 20-minute behind-the-scenes / interview session with Berman titled Inside Zev’s Head where he details how he became involved with this story, which is based on true events. Rituales de Sangre is another good featurette running about 28 minutes which details the true story behind the movie of Mexican drug runners using voodoo and human sacrifice to aid in their business. Yep, this is the best movie and best disc by far so far in the Horrorfest series.

7.4 out of 10