Written by: jamhorner
I've noticed that many of the torture movies are either American or European based, Europeans and Americans aren't the only people who enjoy that pleasure, what about south of the border? Mexico is the home and setting for this film. Essentially telling the accounts of three college students who go to Mexico for beer and girls and end up getting tangled with a sadistic cult. This was based off a very similar incident in the town of Matamoros in 1989, where the cult members removed the brains and spinal cords of the human sacrifices. This movie depicts the gross and gruesome bits of the story to full and blood red detail. The acting and emotions seemed very real and the most horrible part was the killings, in the sense that they were real at one point or the other. Whether or not these American teens really lived and died didn't matter, but the fates of those 12+ people are.
Lets get down to brass tax; the acting seemed pretty real and very emotionally driven. The chemistry that Brian Presley and Martha Higareda have together on screen was amazing and their characters were played off with dedication to the part. Jake Muxworthy and Rider Strong play Ed's (Presley) friends who accompany him. Muxworthy's performance was outstanding and seemed to have really gotten into his character. Rider Strong's performance during the first half of the movie can be debatable, but when he gets kidnapped by one of the cult members and tortured, his somewhat mediocre acting skyrockets to amazing. Damián Alcázar plays Ulises, a detective who seeking redemption and to avenge his partners death. His performance was outstanding and almost believable, especially in the prologue. Marco Bacuzzi, who plays the sadistic butcher of the cult, does a phenomenal job brining this calm evil character to life on the big screen. Through out the movie he guts people, takes their heads, arms, and eyes and backstabs them. His speaking parts were somewhat limited, as well as his character's on screen time but the parts that he did show up, were amazing. On an average, all of these actors and actresses did an amazing job giving life to such cliché-ridden teenagers. Their acting enhanced the illusion that these teenagers are real and that what is happening to them is realer.
The plot, as well as the way that the whole thing was shot, reminded me of Eli Roth's Hostel. In this case, this was a Mexican version of Hostel with a deeper subtext than Hostel. I don't know, something about this movie gave it depth, feel, emotion and style, but I can't put my hand on it. Even though the storyline, kids captured by cult members, has been milked so many times through out history, there was some key ingredient that made this movie work. There where parts where you can feel what the actors and going through, especially the torture, and points where you feel for the actors and actresses after loosing someone close. This film utilized close-up shots to the extreme, which in the process reminded me of Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi trilogy (El Mariachi, Desperado and Once Upon A Time in Mexico). Coincidently they all take place in Mexico and one has a cult-like group. I can also see a heavy influence of Texas Chainsaw in this film, including both recent and original. Teens being hunted down and brought to a house where they have to face torture and where the family of this house eat and make "things" out of human appendages. The only difference between these two films was that Texas Chainsaw was based off of Ed Gein, who killed for an unknown reason, while Borderland's satanic group was killing for a false god. The camera angles and they way that this movie was shot made it seem like there was somebody following around these teens with a camcorder and the establishing shots, as well as the social angles, were magnificently played out. This movie had a great warm tone to it, the way that any "South of the Border" movie should me shot. The characters gave this movie depth and feel, while the plot slowly drives you into mayhem and inevitably into a final confrontation of good and pure evil, a battle that is reminiscent of old spaghetti westerns and John Wayne movies. Overall, this movie was not jump out scary but more "Oh my god, that can't be happening. What are they doing?" scary. It of coarse had to have hot Mexican girls and beautiful looking Americans, which for me is a bit cliché and at points the movie seems a bit over the top but I like it. I would recommend this movie to those who enjoy torture horror, Texas Chainsaw, Hostel and early Robert Rodriguez flicks. I certainly like it.