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Film / Borderland

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Borderland is a film directed by Zev Berman in 2007.

On a college trip in Mexico a group of friends uncover a religious cult that practices human sacrifice after one of them goes missing.

Very Loosely Based on a True Story, although more so than other horror films with the same claim; there was a religious cult lead by a man named Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo in Mexico City who performed human sacrifices in order to gain protection in his drug deals. He was arrested after murdering a college student on spring break.

It was part of the After Dark Horrorfest film festival.

Not to be confused with the video game, Borderlands.


This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Randall is pretty charming for a misogynistic serial killer, at least until you piss him off.
  • Bald of Evil: One of the recurring cultists (whom the credits identify as Gustavo, but this never mentioned in the movie) sports one giving him a sinister skeletal appearance and seems more wicked than some of the other cultists, and the complete lack of hair on his head helps him stand out compared to the shaggy appearance of most of the other members.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Word of God says this was the intention of the ending in which Ed brutally murders Mario, a younger, more innocent cult member despite his pleas for mercy
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The cult is fond of this.
  • Cruel Mercy: Ulises is left alive by the cult at the beginning of the film but one of his legs is broken and his friend is killed to leave a message about what happens to people who cross them.
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  • Death by Sex: Averted: Ed and Valeria have sex offscreen and live. On the hand Phil turns down sex with a prostitute and is presumably still a virgin when he's murdered by the Cult. Much the same goes for Lupe, who refrained from having sex or taking drugs and is much more religious than her cousin.
  • Eye Scream: Happens to Ulises' partner in the opening scene.
  • Final Girl: Valeria. Gender-flipped with Ed, who also survives.
  • Forced to Watch: Ulises is forced to watch his partner tortured and murdered by the rest of the cult.
  • A God Am I: Santillan, the leader of the cult sees himself as this.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The film is pretty gory but a lot of the violence happens off-screen and we usually just see the aftermath.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Amelia, the young hooker that Phil almost hooks up with.
  • Hubris: Santillan considers himself invincible thanks to the sacrifices performed. He is shot and killed by Ulises moments later.
  • Human Sacrifice: The modus operandi of the cult.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Henry
  • Kiss of Death: Santillan gives one to Phil while preparing to sacrifice him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never made clear if the cult's sacrifices actually work in shielding them against the police, or if the cops are just actually scared of the threat they pose.
  • Off with His Head!: We don't see it happen, but at one point Phil is decapitated and his severed head is discovered.
  • Police Are Useless: The local authorities are terrified of the cult and refuse to help. Only Ulises proves to be useful.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Ulises, the disgraced cop, finally kills the leader of the cult but is shot in the process and dies from his wounds.
  • Religion of Evil: Subverted. The film makes clear that Santería and Palo Mayombe have been perverted by the cult for their own selfish purposes and are not evil religions by themselves. Furthermore, as in real life, most of them seem to have been violent people engaged in criminal activities before becoming involved with the cult.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Phil tries to do this with a young prostitute but stops once he discovers that she has a baby.
  • Spicy Latina: Valeria played by Mexican actress Martha Higareda.
  • Tattooed Crook: Santilian and Gustavo both sport quite the collection of tattoos.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The end credits notes that a cult member was caught running a police blockade and claimed that the power of Nganga had made him invisible. Oddly, that is one element of the film that is entirely true to life and it is, in fact, how the real-life cult's activites were discovered.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Appears to be the case between Santilian and his Dragon, Anna.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The core of the story (a drug cartel and cult that ritually sacrificed people for "protection" abducted an American college student) is based on the involvement of the Hernandez drug cartel with Adolfo Constanzo and Sara Aldrete. In real life, however:
    • The disappearance of Mark Kilroy caused an uproar and set off a massive search for him.
    • Most of Constanzo's prior victims were criminals and members of rival drug families, not average citizens.
    • Constanzo was not well-known by the authorities, though his criminal associates, the Hernandez drug family certainly were.
    • The cult was ultimately undone by the Ralph Wiggum levels of stupidity exhibited by some of its members.


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