In 2003, Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, and Josh Mond met at NYU, hit it off and formed a production company, Borderline Films, whose short films and features have been picking up awards at Cannes, Sundance, and beyond ever since. This week, as Campos’s The Devil All the Time begins streaming on Netflix and Durkin’s The Nest heads to theaters, contributors to the A.V. Club have been revisiting some of Borderline’s most memorable movies.
Since James White and before this year, only Campos has directed another feature, Christine, in 2016. Now he’s back with a ferocious cast—Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, Harry Melling, Haley Bennett, Eliza Scanlen, and Sebastian Stan—in an adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s 2011 novel The Devil All The Time that, to Noel Murray at the A.V. Club, “feels equally inspired by seamy Jim Thompson novels and florid Southern gothic literature.” It’s a knotty series of interconnected family tragedies taking place in and around Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. “You might say that sin is the movie’s true star,” writes Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times. “A cop serves his greed, a preacher indulges his lust, and a young man unleashes his wrath. I’m not sure how to classify the gun-toting creep with the cuckold fetish, except to note that he is less an outlier than a standard bearer, the nastiest distillation of this movie’s relentlessly nasty worldview.”
When Durkin’s The Nest premiered at Sundance in January, Noel Murray sent out a tweet calling it “a domestic melodrama shaped as a spook-show. Not sure it coalesces.” Ben Kenigsberg isn’t, either. “In contrast to the dreamlike subjectivity of Martha Marcy, The Nest is a coldly observational study of a Reagan-Thatcher-era family divided in ambitions, nationality and—with respect of the children—parentage,” he writes in the New York Times. “In technique, The Nest is severe but unimpeachable,” and if Durkin’s “writing doesn’t always match his formal flair, The Nest has a bracing economy, cramming a lot into tight quarters.”