Fantastic Fest 2018 Review: BORDER

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

I went into this film thinking it was a run of the mill thriller and it is anything but that.  This shouldn’t surprise me whatsoever, because this is Fantastic Fest, home of strange and incredible surprises. This bizarrely creative Swedish import left me in awe, but in all of the right ways.  Director Ali Abassi uses bizarre and unusual scenarios and characters to send a timely message. Everyone needs love, just not everyone needs the same kinds of love, though.

Though Tina (Eva Melander) has a seemingly ordinary job,  she does not look like everyone else.  This lady was born with strikingly different facial features and also displays the facial and body hair of a hirsute.  She does have a very keen sense of smell and is highly instinctual, which really comes in handy for her job as a border agent.  While working, Tina comes across a very suspicious looking man named Vore (Eero Milonoff) who shares some of the same features as she has. She becomes intrigued with him and finds out where he is staying.  As Tina becomes better acquainted with him, she begins to uncover some strange discrepancies regarding her own personal history.

Based on the short story of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Border tells a madly ingenious story that is definitely not for the easily perturbed.  It isn’t so much that the film is particularly gruesome or violent, but it is so different and unusual that it definitely takes some adjustment to behold.  I would like to reveal more about its characters and what sets this film apart from others, but to do so would reveal too much.

John Ajvide Lindqvist, screenwriter Isabella Eklöf, and director Ali Abassi use extremely odd chracters, and freakishly (for lack of a better term) shocking scenarios and visuals to take people out of their comfort zones They juxtapose this presentation  with an endearing and poignant development of the Tina character. Tina and Vore might be different and unconventional, but they are characters with real feelings and personal needs.  It is a gutsy and risky juxtaposition that mostly works, but probably isn’t accessible to all mature audiences.

Still, I was rather taken and captivated with this film and found it mostly brilliant for all of its bizarre imagery.  I feel that fans of the unconventional and highly eccentric films will absolutely adore this film. Border opens in Austin on Friday October 26.

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