BORNLESS ONES (2016)
Starring Margaret Judson, Devin Goodsell and Michael Johnston
Written & Directed by Alexander Babaev
“With the help of her friends, Emily moves to a remote home to take better care of her brother, Zach, who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. But what they don’t know is that the house kept a terrifying secret that will haunt them one by one“.
Horror movies that riff on The Evil Dead are nothing new. From Cabin Fever to Cabin in the Woods, and last years absolutely amazing Tonight She Comes, it really goes to show just how classic, timeless and inspiring Sam Raimi’s original demonic possession movie was. Hell, we’ve even got a hit TV spin-off over 30 years after its release!
It’s also a great springboard for low-budget genre loving filmmakers to cut their teeth. Isolated location, minimal cast, and plenty of opportunity for outlandish, ridiculous and crowd-pleasing violence.
Writer and director Alexander Babaev knows all this, but his Bornless Ones isn’t a lazy retread.
The script really sets Bornless Ones apart. Things start off seemingly quite sketchy, with cliched and juvenile humour and interactions coming from a young and attractive cast. But all of a sudden, without you really ever noticing, Babaev has established the relationships and backstory for each of the characters in a deft and effortless way. Then the demons are introduced, and these characters and their history’s are beautifully exploited. It’s nothing new, see Event Horizon, but it’s a refreshing change to see it all handled so expertly.
Just as the story grows in confidence as the film goes on, so do the performances. Judson is an amiable and sympathetic heroine, her focus on her brother making her more than just a final girl. Goodsell grows into a fantastic asshole, becoming a human pin cushion as things get more horrific, and he communicates it with aplomb. Bobby T and Michael Johnston do well, again adding layers to what would usually be thin stock characters. The inclusion of Johnston as the cerebral palsy afflicted Zach adds a whole new dimension to the film.
Special mention must also go up David Banks as a nutso realtor who briefly shows up to add some real humour. But the standout was Mark Furze as Woodrow. So much more than the sex-obsessed character, Furze seems to add lots of little nuances to Woodrow as things go on. He’s a big talent.
Babaev doesn’t skimp on the gore either, with some excellent mostly practical FX that are very inventive and fun. It’s rare that this kind of film shows you something you haven’t seen before!
On the downside, some of the editing felt a little off, the content cut to blacks giving an episodic feel to the flow, and the CGI used in some of the exterior shots felt unnecessary and could have been done practically.
But other than that, Bornless Ones is a really nice surprise. Tightly directed and well-written, with great performances and some outstanding violence, it’s well worth a watch for horror lovers.