Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: Alexander Babaev
Writer: Alexander Babaev
Producer: Devin Goodsell, Mariietta Volynska
Stars: Margaret Judson, Devin Goodsell, Michael Johnston, Mark Furze, Bobby T, Svetlana Titova, Victoria Clare, Greg Travis, David Banks, Rob Tepper
A young woman caring for her crippled brother unknowingly awakens a demon that terrorizes a remote woodland cabin.
I’ll give “Bornless Ones” this much at a minimum. The film follows a formula that won’t bowl over horror hounds hankering for fresh frights. But it doesn’t pick the low road for its path, putting forward more creativity and competence than you’re likely to see in many like-minded affairs.
Five friends are on their way to a remote house in a forest. I know what you’re thinking because I thought it too. Particularly once the group predictably stops at a roadside gas station for a weirdo convo with an alcoholic redneck attendant.
Except here is what I mean about “Bornless Ones” not leaning on the easiest way out. The setup is that good girl Emily needs a peaceful place to care for her palsy-afflicted brother Zach, with her boyfriend Jesse and another couple coming along for the ride. Most movies would simply have the quintet rallying for a rager of a weekend in the woods and lazily leave it at that. Zach’s condition is essential to how the plot unfolds, yet it’s still a unique and human touch on an otherwise pat premise.
It’s actually disappointing that there is a party montage of shot swigging and dancing in slow motion anyway. Benefit of the doubt senses writer/director Alexander Babaev may be shoving in the scene out of mistaken obligation for what such films usually include, never mind that it isn’t needed.
What no one knows yet is that the previous owner died after summoning a demon to heal her dying daughter. Things didn’t go as planned, as often happens when resorting to an agent of Hell for help. The possessed little girl gruesomely murdered her mother and now Emily and the others are unwittingly positioned to make the same mistake.
When the friends find strange sigils drawn all over the house, they presume them to be trash and take the offending wood planks outside. Of course, those symbols were the cabin’s last line of defense against the beings who soon start stalking outside.
Things initially look up when Zach is suddenly able to walk. But the price to be paid for Zach’s miraculous mobility is possession. Now an evil presence moves from person to person, forcing everyone to confront their darkest secrets so that they might cause themselves harm and allow the demon inside to heal.
“Bornless Ones” overcomes familiarity because legitimately professional actors pepper the cast. No one is a huge name, yet they’ve all put in time on bigger sets and that level of experience shows. Although award acceptance speeches don’t need to be drafted, there aren’t any slouches performing through a phone. Even single scene players like David Banks as an over-caffeinated realtor and Greg Travis as the beer-brewing store clerk put panache into throwaway characters you should roll your eyes at, yet can’t because their sincerity forbids it.
Cast a film correctly, convince everyone to commit to their characters, and even a redundant horror film can emerge as entertaining. That’s what “Bornless Ones” does and that’s why it works, mostly.
Sketchily-scripted background beats shakily hold the story together, though other details keep the movie from sputtering too much. One inventive idea sees a demon, after possessing a body of broken bones, attaching splints to limbs with a power drill in order to walk again. Imagery such as a pile of bloody demon babies wriggling in burlap sacks is suitably weird in a dementedly disturbing way. While some tropes are tiresome, much effort remains on display to be appreciated throughout the film.
“Bornless Ones” is an example of how simple doesn’t have to be stale. Investing a modest amount of personal flourishes and being crewed up with people who genuinely want to work goes a long way toward making old hat enjoyable. The movie may not inspire revolutionary fires anytime soon. But as far as standard cabin-in-the-woods creepshows go, “Bornless Ones” is one of the better-acted and most efficiently executed productions out there.
Review Score: 75