Final Prayer (aka The Borderlands, 2013)

So an Irish priest, a Scottish priest, and an English agnostic walk into this church.

It sounds like the setup to a bad joke, but it’s actually what happens in Final Prayer. I mean, in a nutshell. Also demons, maybe.

So okay, a Scottish gent by the name of Deacon and an English lad called Gray are sent to a rural parish someplace in the UK to investigate the local priest’s claim that some miraculous happenings have, ah… happened. Deacon’s with the church, though his exact position isn’t really explained until much later; Gray, for his part, is a techie sent along to Paranormal Activity the hell outta this piece. And eventually, Mark, an Irish priest and “Relator General,” shows up too, and his thing is that he’s a jerk. Hilarious hijinks ensue.

The plot is quite bare-bones. Essentially it’s The Blair Witch Project in Britain with Church miracle-debunkers instead of college kids, and with unspecified pagan spirits instead of a witch. There’s absolutely nothing new for most of the movie, which is okay, because it gets by on the strength of Gordon Kennedy and Robin Hill‘s acting. Kennedy as the gruff Deacon and Hill as the goofy London nerd Gray play to each other’s strengths and generate a few actual laughs. They really carry the film (which makes sense, since they have by far the most screen time), and it’s a pleasure to watch them riff off each other.

Oh, also the whole thing is found footage, mostly from the head-cams that Gray and Deacon wear. So. There’s that.

Unfortunately the final act really falls flat. Predictably they call in an old priest (really?) to exorcise the place, stuff goes wrong, and they all get split up. Deacon and Gray search for the others in a sequence that combines Blair Witch‘s final moments with the claustrophobic tunnel-crawling of As Above, So Below, only not quite as good as either. And while I won’t spoil the last scene, I will say that why. Why did you do that.

The whole film, start to finish, is exceptionally formulaic (except, I guess, for the very last bit), and the denouement is so bland that it threatens to spoil the flavor of the whole thing. Still, I appreciate Final Prayer‘s use of pre-Christian British religion as a backdrop, Kennedy and Hill’s back-and-forth, and the use of humor. It’ll be interesting to see what else writer/director Elliot Goldner gets up to.

icecream3

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