Border (2018 Swedish film)

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Border (2018 film).jpg
Film poster
Directed byAli Abbasi
Produced byNina Bisgaard
Peter Gustafsson
Petra Jonsson
Screenplay byAli Abbasi
Isabella Eklöf
John Ajvide Lindqvist
Based onBorder
by John Ajvide Lindqvist
StarringEva Melander
Eero Milonoff
Jorgen Thorsson
Ann Petrén
Sten Ljunggren
Music byChristoffer Berg
Martin Derkov
CinematographyNadim Carlsen
Edited byOlivia Neergaard-Holm
Anders Skov
Black Spark Film & TV
Distributed byTriArt Film
Release date
  • 10 May 2018 (2018-05-10) (Cannes)
Running time
108 minutes
Box office$944,990[1][2]

Border (Swedish: Gräns) is a 2018 Swedish fantasy film directed by Ali Abbasi with a screenplay by Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf and John Ajvide Lindqvist based on the short story of the same name by Ajvide Lindqvist from his anthology Let the Old Dreams Die. It won the Un Certain Regard award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival,[3] and was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.[4]


Tina works for the Swedish border agency, using her unusual ability to sniff out guilt and shame to detect contraband at the customs. She lives in a secluded house in the woods, and a dog trainer named Roland lives with her. One day at the border, Tina manages to uncover a memory card full of child pornography. Her boss wonders how she knew to look for it, and Tina tells her about the special smelling ability. The boss asks her to help their investigation into who filmed the pornography.

The next day, a strange man walks through customs, and Tina asks to inspect his bag. He has a similar "ugly" facial structure to Tina. 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, but discovers that he does not have typical male sex anatomy. Tina asks him who he is; he tells her his name is Vore and that he will be staying in a nearby hostel.

Tina is intrigued by him and visits the hostel, where she finds him eating maggots off a tree. He offers her one, and she eats it. She offers that he stay in her guest house. Tina brings him to the room, where he tries to kiss her, but she doesn’t let him. Roland and the neighbors are immediately suspicious of Vore.

Tina uses her nose to sniff out the apartment where the pedophiles live, and inside finds a camera with footage of an infant baby being raped. The police arrest the residents, but cannot track down the person trafficking the babies seen in the videos.

During a thunderstorm, Vore comes into Tina’s house, and the two of them huddle under a table, terrified of the lightning that repeatedly strikes the house. The two of them finally kiss. On a walk after the storm, Tina confesses that she has a chromosome deformity which makes it difficult to have sex and impossible to bear children. Vore tells her that it’s not a deformity, and she should ignore what humans say about her. They make love, and Tina is surprised when a strange penis grows out of her, which she uses to mount Vore. Afterward, Vore tells Tina that she is a troll, just like him.

Tina is excited by her newfound identity, and begins living more like a troll. She finally has the confidence to tell Roland to move out of her house. She notices that Vore has taped his fridge shut, and finds inside a cardboard box with a strange baby inside. Vore tells Tina that the baby is actually a Hisiit, a unfertilized troll embryo that will soon die. But in secret Vore plans to use the Hisiit as a changeling, and is waiting to replace a real human infant with the dying troll embryo.

While one of the pedophile suspects is being transferred to another prison, Vore stops the van and murders the suspect. Tina chases him down to question him. Vore admits he had to murder the man before he could tell the police that Vore was in fact the one helping supply babies to be used as rape victims in porn. He tells her that very soon the trolls will get their revenge on humans for all the trolls they tortured in the ‘70s. Tina is upset by this, and believes that vengeance won’t solve their problems.

Tina's father visits from the nursing home, and finally tells her the truth about her past. He used to work at a psychiatric hospital where trolls were tortured and experimented on, and he adopted Tina to raise her as a human. Her real parents died long ago, and he tells her where they are buried.

The next day, Tina's neighbors call for an ambulance because something is wrong with their baby. She looks bruised and deformed. Tina suspects Vore is behind this and goes to the guest house, but all of Vore’s belongings are gone, and a note tells Tina to meet him on the ferry. She finds him on the deck of the ferry, and tells him that the fact that she believes in compassion doesn’t mean she is a human: trolls are capable of compassion too. She signals police to close in and arrest him, but he manages to jump overboard.

A few months later, Tina finds a mysterious parcel on her porch. Inside is a troll baby and a postcard from a troll community in Finland.



John Ajvide Lindqvist wrote the first draft of the screenplay, and then Abassi hired Isabella Eklöf to add more "psychological realism" to the story. Casting for the film took 18 months. To transform into the character of Tina, Eva Melander gained a considerable amount of weight and wore prosthetics that took four hours each day to apply.[5]


Border screened at Cannes, where it won the 2018 Un Certain Regard award,[6] Telluride, and the Toronto International Film Festival. The director Ali Abbasi holds an Iranian passport, which could have prevented him from traveling to the United States due to the travel ban, but he was granted a rare exception to attend the Telluride Festival.[7]


The film has received favorable reviews, and currently has an approval rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 63 reviews.[8] Alissa Simon of Variety described the film as "an exciting, intelligent mix of romance, Nordic noir, social realism, and supernatural horror that defies and subverts genre conventions,"[9] and Stephen Dalton of Hollywood Reporter wrote, "A couple of sharp curveball additions to Lindqvist’s original plot also elevate Border beyond genre trappings and into stranger, sadder, more generally relatable territory."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Border". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Gräns". The Numbers. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  3. ^ Lodge, Guy (18 May 2018). "Cannes: 'Border' Leads Un Certain Regard Award Winners". Variety. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  4. ^ Roxborough, Scott (28 August 2018). "Oscars: Sweden Selects 'Border' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (10 May 2018). "Director Ali Abbasi on how Cannes title 'Border' channels "the experience of being a minority"". ScreenDaily. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Ali ABBASI - Festival de Cannes 2018". Festival de Cannes 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  7. ^ Kohn, Eric (1 September 2018). "Iranian Filmmaker Is Reportedly the First From His Country to Gain Exception to Trump Travel Ban — Telluride". IndieWire. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Border (Gräns)2018". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  9. ^ Simon, Alissa (11 May 2018). "Cannes Film Review: 'Border'". Variety. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  10. ^ Dalton, Stephen (10 May 2018). "'Border' ('Gräns') : Film Review - Cannes 2018". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 14 September 2018.

External links[edit]