Directed by John McNaughton [Other horror films: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), The Harvest (2013)]
Filmed in the late 80’s and not released until 1991, this science-fiction/horror mix isn’t a particularly great movie, but if you go into it not knowing much, nor expecting anything from it, The Borrower might turn out to be an okay watch.
As it was, I didn’t love it, but I will admit I was impressed by the fact that, despite the goofy premise (an alien is exiled on Earth for his crimes, and must survive by stealing the heads of Earthmen), this movie isn’t actually all that steeped in humor. Sure, there’s a little here and there, but much of the film is played decently straight (it helps that there are some serious topics addressed in this, such as homelessness, taking a life in self defense, and sexual assault), which was a pleasant surprise.
That doesn’t make the movie good, of course. The story itself doesn’t drag, but it does seem somewhat aimless at times (which might be expected, but it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable), and the conclusion, at least to me, felt rather lack-luster. Certainly the special effects, for what they were, weren’t at all shabby, but a competent story with decent special effects isn’t like to really keep people excited throughout.
I don’t think that Rae Dawn Chong, the lead actress, did a bad job here, and she did shine in a few scenes, but I’m hard-pressed to say that she really brought a lot to the film. More interesting to see was Antonio Fargas, who was in the classic 70’s television series Starsky and Hutch (a series of which I’ve seen most episodes of, believe it or not). Here, he played a homeless man who came into contact with the alien, and they almost have a buddy cop feel to them (up to a point, of course). Fargas didn’t really make the movie, by any means, but he was certainly a nice and familiar face to see.
When all’s said and done, The Borrower did exceed the admittedly meager expectations I had, but it still came out as a below-average film. Certainly for an early 1990’s movie that I’ve almost never heard of before, it was a somewhat nice surprise, and I certainly recommend it to fans of alien-based horror, but it’s a far cry from great, and definitely a different look for director John McNaughton (who directed the classic Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer).
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss The Borrower in all it’s glory.