Eero Milonoff and Eva Melander in "Border" (2018)

Eero Milonoff and Eva Melander in Border (2018)

Border (Gräns) is a dark Swedish fantasy film directed by Ali Abbasi from a screenplay by Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf and John Ajvide Lindquist based on a short story by Ajvide Lindqvist. It won the Un Certain Regard award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

The film’s protagonist, Tina (Eva Melander), works for the Swedish Border Agency using her sixth sense to literally sniff out guilt and shame and detect contraband being smuggled through customs. Swarthy and not a conventional beauty, she lives in a secluded house in the woods that she shares with a dog trainer named Roland. One day, as she mans her post, Tina manages to uncover a memory card full of child pornography. Her boss wonders how she knew to look for it, and Tina tells him about her special olfactory powers.

The next day, a strange man (Eero Milonoff) walks through customs, and Tina asks to inspect his bag. He has an "ugly" facial structure similar to Tina’s. The bag is full of maggots and a device that he claims is a maggot incubator. He is taken into a back room to be searched more thoroughly. Another officer does a strip search of him and discovers that he does not have the typical male sexual anatomy. Tina asks him who he is. He tells her that his name is Vore and that he will be staying in a nearby hostel.

Intrigued, Tina visits the hostel, where she finds him eating maggots off a tree. He offers her one, and she eats it. She offers Vore to stay in her guest house but Roland and the neighbors get immediately suspicious of Vore … Border’s plot is both naturalistic and suffused with a Nordic sense of the supernatural, much like Tomas Alfredson’s masterful Let The Right One In (also based on a Lindqvist novel).

Director Ali Abbasi says this about his vision for the film: “For me, growing up in Iran, reality was a bit jelly-like. It isn’t always solid, it can change suddenly it is opaque and tricky, and sometimes is so strange and weird that you just can’t believe … And that’s what we tried to do with Border”.