Borderland (2007, d. Zev Berman)
Three impulsive and illiberal students, awaiting grad school, take a bro-cation to a tenderloin, Mexican border town. Although looking for dope and hookers, they accidentally find themselves the prey of a violent drug order/religious cult. While one bro is being tortured and strung up by his castanets, the other two come after the well-armed gang with a tire iron and get their gringo culos handed to them. They should have turned around at El Paso and headed straight back to Stanford.
Based on a true story, Borderland is a case where a better movie is lurking just beneath the one we’re unfortunately watching. The American douchebags are neither sympathetic characters nor well cast actors. More interesting to me is the gang of drug-smuggling orphans who kidnap virgin male tourists for their Jim Jones-esque leader. A guy who performs a sadistic Santeria ritual upon the victim in the belief that such blood sacrifice will render him invisible to narcotics law enforcement. Now that’s entertainment!
Rosemary’s Baby (1968, d. Roman Polanski)
A young couple moves into a new apartment and find themselves overwhelmed by peculiar neighbors and unsettling coincidences. When the wife becomes pregnant, she also becomes paranoid that the neighbors are witches and that the coincidences are parts of a plot to kidnap her unborn child for use in Satanic rituals.
Considered by many to be a horror classic, and even a cinema classic, I like the movie but find it disappointing on two levels. The first is a fault in the construction of the film in that it seems to have no middle part. It’s more than 2 hours of anxious build-up with a rather silly payoff in the last few minutes. The second disappointment I suspect stems from being sui generous and controversial in its time. But it’s been imitated so much that now that it comes off as trite. I suspect people at the time of the movie’s release found it an indicting treatment of the upper-middle class and bourgeois professionals. It just doesn’t seem shocking now.