By Brian M. Sammons
Final Prayer (2013). Director: Elliot Goldner. Cast: Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill, Aidan McArdle. Country: UK.
Once there was a movie from the UK called The Borderlands. Then it came to North America on DVD and, for some silly reason, it changed its name to Final Prayer. Why it did that, I don’t know, but it sort of seems to be a thing these days, with Edge of Tomorrow desperately trying to rebrand itself as Live/Die/Repeat, and Late Phases adding a totally unnecessary subtitle to become Late Phases: Night of the Lone Wolf. Whatever the reason for all this name-changing, I just wanted to make sure you could find this movie no matter what side of The Pond you are from, because this little flick is well worth a watch. Oh, dear, that might be me tipping my hand a bit prematurely, so let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
Final Prayer is a found footage film about a team of Vatican investigators heading out to the English countryside to look into strange happenings at a very old church. There’s the Scottish priest in charge of the investigation, the doubting tech-head in charge of all the cameras and computers, and another by-the-book priest to act as a foil for the lead priest. Naturally, all of the local townies are very tight-lipped and wary of strangers. That said, there might be something more sinister than the usual small-town xenophobia, as someone tries to scare the investigators off by lighting a goat on fire on their front porch. Lovely.
Despite the warm welcome (ewwww), the investigating trio at first think the whole thing at the church is a hoax, but as they dig deeper and look into the long, sordid history, things become less and less certain. After a sudden death and more strange happenings, a supernatural answer looks more likely, so plans are set in motion to deal with it on that level. As you might guess, that’s when things really go from bad to worse.
There are many elements that make this movie succeed. First, it’s the story, which, at the start, seems about as basic as it gets. While it is good found footage haunted hijinks, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. However, as events unfold, things take many twists and turns and even delve into the dark corners you find inside the Cthulhu Mythos. Additionally, there is a lot of humor to be found in this horror story, most of which comes from the great give-and-take chemistry between actors Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill as the chief investigator priest and the tech-savvy camera man. There are a few good jump scares scattered throughout, not to mention a neat mystery to be solved that calls for plenty of Lovecraft-approved investigation into the forgotten history behind the church and the ancient land it was built upon.
Final Verdict: The Borderlands/Final Prayer is a bit of a slow burn, but the fine performances and the mysterious elements are more than enough to keep you interested in the film as it plays out. As for Lovecraftian elements, trust me, they are there. They might not be apparent at first, but by the time this movie is over, you’ll see what I mean. As for that ending, that seems to be the dividing line with the audience for this movie. Some don’t like it; others love it. Me, I really dug it, and since you’re reading this review on the Innsmouth Free Press, I’m going to guess that you’ll like it, too. If you live in North America and you want to check this movie out for yourself, you can find it on DVD under the title, Final Prayer, from Lionsgate. If you live in the UK, you can still find it under the title, The Borderlands. Whatever it’s called, just see it.