31 Days of Hell: Final Prayer (2013) - Reviewed

The one and only feature film debut of British writer-director Elliot Goldner, The Borderlands (retitled Final Prayer in the United States) is yet another one of those found-footage devil-horror movies involving a small group of paranormal investigators within the Vatican researching an ancient church which is either the site of a miracle or a demonic poltergeist.  Set in the Devon countryside village, three men including but not limited to skeptical Brother Deacon (Gordon Kennedy), English everyman Gray (Robin Hill) and Father Mark (Aidan McArdle) plunge into the thirteenth century church armed with high-tech security camera equipment and microphones attempting to capture the supposed paranormal activity on tape. 

In the time-honored tradition of found footage films, replete with the video image distorting before a jump scare or the subwoofer volume being turned up, things invariably go from bad to worse.  By this point we’ve seen this film done to death but the distinctly countryside setting sets it a few millimeters aside from the pack.  The film has decent performances from the ensemble cast with much of the heavy lifting done by Robin Hill as an ordinary local alcoholic whose transition from nonchalant documentarian to frightened and determined truth seeker will briefly brighten the eyes of the few watching this thing.

An attempt at cosmic horror ala the cinema verité aesthete, the film mostly benefits from the atmospheric countryside setting with some sequences purging the cameras through thick dusk fog.  The film utilizes claustrophobia in the last half almost as well as some of the tightly quartered moments peppering such found footage phantasmagorias like As Above So Below.  Also unique to this found footage spooker are the occasional involvement of gore and/or creepy crawlies like when a videographer stumbles upon a cloak covered in live worms.  Otherwise most of what you get here is more than familiar territory in, let's be honest, an oversaturated marketplace full of many almost exactly like this one.

All in all, Final Prayer (aka The Borderlands) is a serviceable at best, unmemorable at worst found footage horror flick that tends to drag its feet in the midsection but provides a startling enough finale to make it all worth the wait.  In the pantheon of found footage horror films with some reaching astonishing heights (see Lake Mungo for example) or depressing lows (Unfriended: Dark Web), Final Prayer posits itself somewhere in the middle of above average.  You get what you pay for.

--Andrew Kotwicki