Thursday, February 09, 2017

Bornless Ones: Fresh Victims for a New Game

It looks like a case of awkward etymological liberty-taking, but apparently, the term “bornless” has legit roots in esoterica. Nevertheless, it would sound better if they called themselves the “Unborn,” but there are already a number of films with that title. Regardless, they enjoy “playing” with humans and that is definitely bad news for the mere mortals in Alexander Babaev’s Bornless Ones (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in Metro-Los Angeles.

Emily and Jesse have just uprooted their lives, buying a secluded cabin-in-the-woods, so they can be near her brother Zach’s new institution. She feels bad about relinquishing her guardianship, but she just can’t (won’t) deal with his treatment anymore. You might think there would be better facilities near a major urban population concentration, but you would be wrong. The boonies are where it’s at for quality care.

Twenty-ish and miserable-all-his-life Zach understands the entities’ nature better than most. Essentially, he was born locked-into his body, unable to talk or communicate, but painfully cognizant of everything that happens around them. He is rather bitter as a result and susceptible to their lies. They promise to heal his body, but at what cost?

Bornless wears its Evil Dead inspirations on its sleeve, so the general grunginess generally works, but the narrative is less than flimsy: people visit house, the end. The treatment of Zach is also highly problematic. Still, Babaev conveys a vivid sense of an ancient, almost Lovecraftian evil and unleashes some truly gruesome practical effects (that’s a good thing).

If anything, Margaret Judson and Devin Goodsell are better than necessary as Emily and her sort of patient boyfriend Jesse, at least for a churn’em up-and-out horror movie. However, Michael Johnston just induces cringes as poor Zach and Mark Furze is plain corn-pone annoying as Jesse’s down-market Matthew McConaughey-ish pal Woodrow. As a bonus, former Deal or No Deal “briefcase model” Bobby T plays Woodrow’s out-of-his-league girlfriend, Michelle.

Babaev mines his elemental horror scenario for archetypal chills and grim laughs, which his spiritual master Sam Raimi would appreciate. However, he never elevates it beyond the level of fresh meat for the grinder. Not terrible but not distinctive enough to recommend, Bornless Ones opens tomorrow (2/10), at the Laemmle Monica Film Center in Santa Monica.