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Fantastic Fest ‘18 Review: “BORDER” Brings a Genre Twist to a Classic Tale

Thursday, September 27, 2018 | Review


Starring Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff and Viktor Åkerblom
Written by Ali Abbas, Isabella Eklöf and John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed by Ali Abbasi

It is a nearly universal experience to feel like you don’t quite belong, like you haven’t been placed with the correct tribe. Like you are adopted, but your parents won’t admit it. This is why the escapism of movies and books where the characters find their true families and their true homes offer such satisfying escapism. Wouldn’t it be great to find out that we are all just Harry Potter, waiting for our Hogwarts letters? It is this basic yearn to fit in and find your people that BORDER taps into, though it does so in its own way.

Tine (Eva Melander) is a customs officer on the Swedish border. She watches people entering the country and questions the people who might be trying to smuggle in contraband, whether it be child porn or just an underaged kid bringing bottles of booze. Tina is incredibly accurate in spotting these smugglers of all sizes, and because of this she excels at her typically stressful job. Her boyfriend is a bit of loser, but at least she isn’t lonely. Everything in Tina’s life seems to be fine enough. That is, until she stops Vore (Eero Milonoff) crossing the border.

While I hate to comment on women’s’ appearance in films, it must be noted that Tina looks a little odd. Through BORDER’s seamless prosthetics and makeup, Melander was transformed into the unusual looking Tina. Her brow is more prominent than most. Her chin smaller. Her looks are not of mention until she meets Vore, because he looks different in the same ways she does. She must stop his from bringing meal worms into the country, and with this brief introduction their chemistry instant. Tina is not quite sure why, but she cannot stay away from this mysterious stranger.

As Tina continues to be pulled toward Vore her life begins to simultaneously unravel and be reconstructed with more personal truth. Tina makes discoveries about herself and her outsider status, and the upheaval feels like a weight being lifted from her soul. This not done without trauma for her and those around her, but Vore is a catalyst and the changes cannot be stopped after they have started.

BORDER is not a horror film in any real way, but is does use the body as a tool for telling a story and as the driving force behind a personal discovery. The film’s investment into mythology and character depth will satisfy genre fans who are looking to watch a drama and romance with a marked twist.

Deirdre is a Chicago-based film critic and life-long horror fan. In addition to writing for RUE MORGUE, she also contributes to C-Ville Weekly,, and belongs to the Chicago Film Critics Association. She's got two black cats and wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero.