When the first trailer dropped for Bornless Ones we could see it was leaning heavily on Evil Dead (as oppose to the classic 1982 film The Evil Dead) comparisons to gets its point across. But while marketing would have you believe these are similar movies, I want to say it right at the top; Bornless Ones and Evil Dead have similar themes, but they aren’t in the same league, hell, they aren’t even playing the same sport. While the premise is similar, young adults going into the woods to do a thing, that’s pretty much where it ends. Characters in Bornless Ones are shallow, lack any nuance, and are generally better dead than alive. Within the opening frame, every archetype is spelled out, so we know who’s who and anyone’s that watched a horror movie in the last ten years knows where this is going.
Shallow characterizations and a predictable storyline aren’t helped by the wooden acting and boring dialog on display either. I give them credit, these kids are trying to act their hearts out but whether they simply aren’t buying what they’re selling, or the dialog is just that bad, it all falls flat and in some very obvious ways too. There are points early on in the movie that made me think this as suppose to be a Cabin in the Woods-style parody. Alas, it’s not. It’s just that bad. Though, I will say Mark Furze who plays Woodrow is a standout here. He plays the character with more depth than he’s given and I was genuinely entertained by him.
From a technical standpoint, things get better but are still uneven. Certain scenes are filmed as if they’re being shot for 3D, which might have been cool but since it’s not in actual 3D there is a jarring, distracting effect to the scenes instead. Otherwise, there is an atmosphere here that is worth praising and could have helped more if these kids weren’t mucking it up with bad dialog every chance they got. Although, I will say, my favorite line in the film was early on and “fuck you bubbles” is something I’ll find myself muttering from time to time, I’m sure.
With that, you should know, there are sparks of quality here and there, just sadly it’s all too infrequent to raise the film as a whole. Specifically, there is a very effective dream sequence that I wish lasted longer and we had more of. The sound in Bornless Ones is borderline excellent at times as well. That is sort of my beef with the film, there are times when I can see a quality film hiding in a dark corner, but too soon it would fall back into the actual mundane premise of the film and I’m left missing that potential I saw. Also, I’d like to point out, while not necessarily apropos to the quality of the film, I did appreciate Bornless Ones taking a minute to briefly explain on what cerebral palsy actually is. Most movies with this tone wouldn’t have bothered. Unfortunately, the editing on this specific scene was such that I got a bit distracted by how disjointed it felt and that took away from the good feels a bit. But nonetheless, credit where credit is due.
I mentioned this earlier but I’d like to unpack this a bit. One of the more frustrating parts when watching a bad horror movie is all the lost potential. If you’ve watched a horror movie in the last ten years you can see where Bornless Ones is going, though not based on the storyline which is barely held together with a spell book and magic beings that… do things. But what that unfulfilled potential does is create armchair directing for every major scene, and this is one of the most egregious examples of that in a while. I kept finding myself watching a scene unfold and wishing it went in a different direction or wishing they chose a different scare tactic, and that’s really unfortunate. I want Alexander Babaev to see his vision through but what ended up on the screen isn’t very entertaining.
When it comes down to it, Bornless Ones is a wrought horror movie that is dragged down by shoddy performances and some unimaginative scares. The comparisons with Evil Dead are surface level only, and when you are dealing with concepts like “demons that help” there is only so far you can go.
Bornless Ones will be available on VOD February 10, 2017.