Film & DVD Reviews: Borderland

Borderland DVD cover

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The Devil’s playground is just around the corner….


Based on the real story of a drug dealing Mexican cult who practised human sacrifice, BORDERLAND blends the raw fear of Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the gritty true crime realism of In Cold Blood as Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings trilogy), Brian Presley (End Game, Home of the Brave), Rider Strong (Cabin Fever) and Jake Muxworthy (CSI-NY, 24) take you on a journey to a world of paranoia, death and terror that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Released on Momentum Pictures, 15, February 2010.

When I saw the opening scene of this film, I thought perhaps it was going to be typical blood and guts horror flick, complete with partying teens, hot chicks, murderous psychos, and screams galore. But this film is unexpected – it is as much a savage crime drama as a gory horror flick.

The film opens as Ulises (Damian Alcazar), a veteran cop from Mexico City is forced to witness the torture and murder of his partner.  He is then sent off to inform other law enforcement to stay away.  A year later, 3 college kids from Texas, Ed (Brian Presley), Henry (Jake Muxworthy) and Phil (Rider Strong) — are partying on a Galveston beach. They soon set out for a Mexican border town, where they end up crossing the wrong side of the path with a murderous  palo mayombe worshiping cult.

For a horror flick, this film spouts strong performances from both good and evil, Sean Astin is roughshod and unpleasant, but you are still drawn to him, as you might be to one of your buddies who gets in over his head and just can’t seem to stop messing up. Damian Alcazar, the dogged justice seeking cop is an excellent choice of casting, as is tough but gorgeous Martha Hirgareda. Marco Bacuzzi as Gustavo, Santillan’s second in command is probably the most disturbing of the crew. The cast is solid and the film is cracking as well, as surprising as it is disturbing and creepy.

Borderland is an tantamount mix of dramatic true crime, thriller and modern horror cinema. What I find most fascinating and troubling about this film is the tale of the actual events upon which it is based. With most films, you can reassure yourself that it is only a movie, however, because this is based on a truly frightening story. One, which, if you begin to look into this abyss, you begin to realise any one of us could find ourselves in this situation. This film reminds us that sometimes real life is as evil and heinous as our favorite tales of terror.

In the late 1980s, there actually was a drug-smuggling and ritual-murdering cult operating out of a ranch near Matamoros, Mexico. Cult members killed a young American man, Mark Kilroy, a pre-med student. Similar to our film storyline, friends lost track of Mark in Matamoros, in the predawn hours of March 14, 1989. The difference with the true story, Kilroy had connections, including an uncle employed by the U.S. Customs Service.

Matamoros is located across the border from Brownsville, Texas. Each spring hundreds of thousands of students descend on both towns for spring break parties. Those who came to celebrate in March 1989 didn’t know that Matamoros had accounts of 60 unsolved disappearances that year.  Kilroy was abducted and taken to Rancho Santa Elena. The “ Padrino” or Godfather of this cult who believed they were above man’s laws, was Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, a master practitioner of the African magic called palo mayombe. Constanzo ordered the slayings, and tortured and sodomized the victims prior to killing them and harvesting their organs for his ritual cauldron. Constanzo was from Cuba and was raised into the religion by parents who had convinced a High Priest he was the chosen one.

Borderland is shot on location, the filming style is especially interesting, as the dark gory shadowy scenes are as terrifying and effective as the scorching hot arid daylight scenes. These are filmed as extreme bright hot whites and are sped up to show the frantic desperation of our lambs on the run. Borderland is successful as a dark and powerful thriller which carries on all the way to the throbbing finale.

BORDERLAND includes some gruelling special features including „Rituales de Sangre: The true story behind the cult murder investigation‟ and audio commentary with the director Zev Berman. Prepare yourself for a vacation to hell as this hair-raising and gut-wrenching flick is yours to own on 15 February 2010.

Credit: Momentum Pictures
Release date: 15 February 2010
Genre: Horror
Running time: 79 minutes
Certificate: 18
Price: £15.99


Audio Commentary by Zev Berman
Rituales de Sangre featurette: The story behind the cult murder investigation Inside Zev‟s Head featurette: A film makers diary 6 x “Miss Horrorfest” Webisodes


  • Ed – Brian Presley
    Valeria – Martha Higareda
    Henry – Jake Muxworthy
    Phil – Rider Strong
    Ulises – Damian Alcazar
    Randall – Sean Astin
    Gustavo – Marco Bascuzzi
    Luis – Roberto Sosa
    Mario – Humberto Busto
    Lupe – Francesca Guillen
    Santillan – Beto Cuevas

Reviewed by Rosdaughr


1 Comment »

  1. Amanda Morgan said

    I saw Borderland and it left a deep impression on me.It is the kind of movie that stays with you.(With me,anyway.) The end was a bit slow, but I liked the atmosphere,also created by the music used.I agree that Marco Bacuzzi’s character Gustavo is deeply disturbing.Not just because he has an unusual face/makeup used.And he probably has Indian blood too.
    But because of his acting.So how come he gets no mention or reward? He really got under my skin,so to speak.An intense actor.How sad that he passed in 2017.I wonder how.


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