So I finally yielded to the cacophany of voices telling me that The Borderlands is really good. "Is it a found-footage, though? Because I don't do found-footage any more, it's a long dead subgenre that had its very meagre bag of tricks emptied very quickly many years ago." "Well, yes, but it's a good one, trust me. Honest it is. This is the one that actually does something interesting and effective with the format and it's properly scary and everything the way it's supposed to be." "Really? Because I've been kicked in the nackers so many times with these things and I really don't want to go back in there again." "Seriously, it's fine. This is the one."
No it isn't. It's just more of the same, much more of the same faux-doc shakycam rubbish, murky security footage non-photography, no sense of who's supposedly edited it all together (or why they've spliced in time-lapse countryside shots that obviously weren't filmed by the "characters"). It is the absolute usual, save for the inexplicable casting of familiar faces which works against the idea of it being "real" because it's Gordon Kennedy out of Absolutely.
Sure it makes you jump a few times but that's not very difficult: it's the well-timed orchestration of spooky noises and the occasional loud bang. It has a fine location in its tiny, barely attended moorland church, either the site of paranormal activity or a clever fake involving hidden wires and speakers, and it certainly looks creepy when lit by a single bulb in the dead of night through the remorseless gaze of a static camera. But so would the biscuit aisle at your local Waitrose if the chocolate digestives suddenly fall off the shelves. And the final moments of the film do go where no other horror movie I can immediately think of have gone.
My main annoyance, apart from the fact that I've been comprehensively suckered yet again, really stems from the fact that so much of The Borderlands could have been done as a straight horror film with proper cameras and a music score. Much of the screenplay, from the occasionally almost sitcom dialogue to the handy plot points like the discovery of the diary of the church's original minister, feels like it could have been shot in the regular manner, and frankly would have been so much more effective for it. If you want to go further: that "normal" version could actually have been an interesting project for Danny Dyer who would have easily fitted in as the tech specialist fitting all the cameras and microphones. There aren't many films that would have been improved by the inclusion of Danny Dyer but this is one of them. Made back in 2013 and also known as Final Prayer.