on April 12, 2008
When this made the top ten of 2007 on BloodyDisgusting.com I was fervently trying to find some way to find it. I looked for months. I kept hearing how brilliant it was. Usually when I put a lot of time into finding something that I know so relatively little about, it ends up in a huge letdown. This absolutely broke that rule. Some nice viscera gets sprayed around, but the compelling acting and character nuances are what really sink the hooks in deep when the blood starts flying. There's a shaky camera technique that gets irritating only a little bit during some driving sequences, but overall the production and the director's sensibility are sharp. I'd describe it as having some classic 70s and 80s horror trappings (cannibals, nazis, freaks, backwoods family) that are wrapped up in a nice art-house package.
Go out of your way to watch this movie. You'll be glad you did.
By the time "Frontier(s)" was over my teeth really hurt. That was because I kept clenching them during the moments in this French horror film (the correct spelling of which would be "Frontière(s)"). This 2007 film is being promoted as the ninth of the 8 films 2 die 4 for last year's After Dark Horrorfest, because when it earned an NC-17 rating in the States it had to be pulled from the lineup. So it has the whole vibe of being too much horror for Horrorfest, which means the expectations are pretty high when you sit down to watch this one. On the other hand, the second crop of Horrorfest films were rather disappointing so you figure this one has to be an improvement, and the good news is that it certainly delivers. I am not the sort to close my eyes while watching the gory parts of movies (although I did close one of them in sympathetic reaction to the opening game of "Saw II"), which is why I went the clenched teeth part. A bad case of the measles as a child took out some of the calcium in my permanent teeth, so I am surprised some of them did not crack.
France is in the throes of some political upheaval having to do with the election of a hard line government, and while a century ago this might have sent young people to the barricades, in these trouble times they turn to crime. With the cops on their trail they decide to hole up in this filthy little bed and breakfast. This, of course, turns out to be a really bad mistake, and while the victims are not deserving of our sympathy on the basis of their characters, they are the hope of the future compared to their tormentors. There is really nothing more to say in laying out the plot, because you should just enjoy the ride, if you sense of the word "enjoy" encompasses what happens in this film. The film breaks down into three acts and how much you like the movie will probably come down to whether you think the final act tops the second.
Writer-director Xavier Gens ("Hitman") gets the credit for coming up with all this sick stuff, but credit also goes to cinematographer Laurent Barès, who gives the film is visual style, and especially film editor Carlo Rizzo, who crafts some moments of bizarre beauty through his creative use of montage. A few horror films of recent vintage have attempted to be "arty," and "Frontier(s)" certainly has some moments where you can argue it is cinema rather than just a horror movie.
The obvious cinematic touchstone here is supposed to be "Hostel," but I was reminded more of the original version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." You will pick up echoes from a lot of other films, but it speaks to the film that I never got the feeling this was a pastiche. I still think "Wolf Creek" is at the top of the list for the torture-porn genre, although I am sure I have not seen everything that is out there. But "Frontier(s)" is closer to that than it is to the "Hostel" movies or "The Saw Trilogy," where there are mystery element in play that divert your from the blood, guts, and whatnot. This is just one of those bloody movies where you wait to see if anybody is going to get out alive.
All I can say now is: What a difference a movie makes. "Frontier(s)" was replaced in the Horrorfest 2007 lineup by "Unearthed," which means that what would have been my highest rated one of the 8 films 2 die 4 was replaced by the one I rated the lowest (although you have to grant that they were right not to have included "Unearthed" in the first place). The original Horrorfest lineup earned an average rating of 3.7 from me and this year's were a step lower at 3.0; but replace "Unearthed" with "Frontier(s)") and the average jumps to 3.4. I had sworn that next year I would rent the Horrorfest movies rather than go ahead and buy them when they came out on DVD (we did not get the festival the second time around), but I am glad I saw enough of the buzz about "Frontier(s)" to go ahead and pick it up. The only real complaint is that there are no DVD extras. Final Note: I wonder if the people behind the After Dark Horrorfest have noticed that their best flicks are being made in foreign lands, because that's certainly what has happened so far.
I believe what cured me of my aversion to subtitled movies was THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE. Then, PAN'S LABYRINTH and AUDITION took away all of my worries forever! Since then, some of my favorite movies have been subtitled. FRONTIER(S) is a worthy addition to the growing list of classic terror tales from France (i.e. High Tension, Inside, etc.) It's got thrills, chills, and enough bizarre characters and atmosphere to please any horror maniac! There are nods to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE ("the family"), THE DESCENT (claustraphobic underground tunnels), and HOSTEL (deceptive babes and torture), combined w/ a cool, utterly ghoulish storyline. FRONTIER(S) is a shocker for those who found the majority of the HORRORFEST films to be tepid at best. Karina Testa is magnificent as Yasmin. She is transformed from a mouse to a savage, vengeful survivor before our eyes! I was quite impressed. Buy this one now, and you won't mind the subtitles...
on March 27, 2015
Xavier Gens' Frontier(s) owes so much to Tobe Hooper's original Texas Chainsaw Massacre that you almost feel Hooper should be collecting royalties on it—and yet when you look at it from a different angle, Frontier(s) has so many innovative takes on the basic TCM scenario (a group of young city slickers running afoul of a backwoods family with strange customs) that it would really be a shame if it were judged only or primarily as a TCM tribute (or ripoff, depending how you feel about it). And yet, I think it's worth looking at the two side-by-side.
I've done my best to give only the tiniest of spoilers here, just itty bitty hints of what goes on...
I think of Tobe Hooper as a sort of Thelonius Monk, jazzing it up in all sorts of ways nobody was expecting and dashing all kinds of expectations. So many elements of Leatherface and his family go unexplained, the pace of events shifts at all sorts of unconventional places, and it ends in a spot that almost feels like there should be a whole other act.
Whereas Gens is like this obsessive classical composer focused on using structure to his advantage. Not to spoil it, but the whole second half of this film is basically an escalation of adrenaline-filled, climactic moments so well planned an executed that it's almost impossible not to watch without getting an adrenaline rush.
Hooper dropped all sorts of cultural and even subtle political references into TCM, and just let them swim around like goldfish; Gens's F(s) has a political point about racism in France that he's hammering home from the very first moments of the film when Yasmina says her world is anything but fair and equitable and then we cut to a massive Paris riot in response to the election of a far-right-wing French President.
TCM was shot on the cheap, and the film-stock graininess gives it a natural and inimitable time-stamp as a work of the late 70s. Hooper and his people went to great lengths to spell out the madness of Leatherface clan in ever element of set dressing possible, throwing in details like the weird ornaments skewered on the barren branches of the trees outside the house, details for the curious viewer to puzzle over before the carnage begins.
F(s) on the other hand is very slick. I've no idea how much money it cost to make and no interest right now in looking it up, but it looks pricey to me, and while there are all sorts of little details in the set dressing here as well, they are overpowered by a great attention to atmosphere. The air in the barnyard looks thick, the palette of the farmhouse interior seems to exude a musty odor and you can almost picture the rust on the hinge of the scissors during the haircut scene. But I promised no spoilers.
I will say, though, that the key element of the crazy, backwoods family is much more fleshed out here than in TCM. Each character gets something of a backstory and a character arc.
If there's one thing I find similar about these films, it's that, moment-to-moment, they were both quite unpredictable to me on first viewing. I had a general sense in both films of where things were heading (and, I mean, come on, with a name like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you sort of know what's coming), but if you had paused it for me in the middle of any scene in either film and said, "what do you think is about to happen?" I wouldn't be able to guess with much confidence. That's pretty rare once you realize how formulaic movies tend to be.
on April 5, 2008
yes yes yes yes yes yessssssssssss. very entertaining. it had me on the edge of my seat from the first to final frame. very bloody, but doesn't only rely on that. there are many fun chase scenes on feet and a couple on the road. even though this dvd says After Dark Horrorfest on the side, it isn't stupid. we've all been through this. i've even been tempted to rent a couple before and they all suck. trust me, this one is ACTUALLY amazing. they say the reason they took it out of the festival was because it's rated NC-17. i bet the real reason is because it's actually good.
on May 7, 2016
If you have seen brital intensive movies from all around the world? Have you seen movies like <The Woman>< Inside> or <The Girl From Next Door>. You haven't seen enough. Because this movie <Frontires> will beat them all right away.
The filmmaker was already famous with the movie <HITMAN> and he is all into britaility and no sexuality at all. In this movie he could have shown some nudity but he doesn't even show any single moment of skin of the main charactor at all.
But if you watch this film, you cannot but to close your eyes from time to time because an axe sticks into the man's head or the head being cracked totally or even more intensive shots will knock your brains out right in the spot.
This movie can be compared to Eli Roth's <HOSTEL 1,2> But since his movie is more combined with sexualty as well, this is not at all. That is the difference.
If you see the image of the dvd and expect something sexual, don't be bothered.
I was watching this movie about 1 Am and was totally awake. I usually sleep at 10:30 pm since I wake up at 5:00 am sharp. It was that shocking.
Karina Testa was doing her job really well. I think she was born for this roll.
All th other actors include the old man who act as a German nazi style guy who kidnaps a bunch of people who wants to stay at the hotel of some kind and brutally kill them and make them into mummy or something. That actor was really something too. I think his name is Jan Vlasák and surprisingly he was in the movie <HOSTEL> as well.
If you still have guts to watch this movie, you should be totally prepared. This movie is of course unrated and uncensored.
Enjoy the ride if you can.
on March 29, 2015
Love these kinds of movies. Yes, I guess I'm crazy and into horror, torture and survival and revenge. I watch tons of movies, and how in the world this one got past me for so long, I'll never know. This movie was BADD A$$. The writer and director and actors and actresses were all superb in this movie. Loved it to the very end. I love the song at the end too. I'm going to download it, if I can find it. This movie rocks. Definitely disturbing, and could actually happen. Some crazy freaks living in an old and I'm talking OLD run down hotel, house, old mine place ran by a super mean Nazi retired old man and his crazies some his blood, some half breeds, he calls them. Great location, out at the end of nowhere land in France country side. PLEASE, make some more of these movies. GREAT JOB. And the father OMG, trip out, he would scare me and make behave without lifting a finger, just his presence in a room. Yikes.
on May 30, 2008
Frontier(s) or Frontière(s) is an Xavier Gens (Hitman) film that was so violent that After Dark Films declined to include it among its "8 films to die for" for HorrorFest 2007. The MPAA, rightfully I might add, stamped Frontier(s) with an NC-17 rating, prompting the distributor to shoot for a limited American unrated theatrical release coinciding with this release on DVD. This is a French film and given that I felt the French horror film Inside was among the best horror films to come out in quite some time, my hands were wet with anticipation to see this little movie. The comparisons to Inside are undeniable as it is not only French and violent to the extreme, but its protagonist is pregnant and the film is set among the chaos of French riots and civil unrest. There was a message hinted at in spurts during Frontier(s) but the film was just too vile to place emphasis on Gens's political leanings.
Frontier(s) follows a gang of thieves who exploit law enforcement during riots to commit a pretty hefty heist. The robbery is botched and the gang of four splits up. The gang ends up in some rural hostel that turns out to be a hive of Neo-Nazi cannibal kidnappers and torturers. Let the fun begin.
One thing is for sure, the story is not original at all. In fact, it is very formulaic and I didn't like the fact that I felt urged to side with this gang of thieves, so I rooted for Goetz, a character who is an absolute monster of a villain and made for some entertaining and intense moments. Considering that we are seeing nothing new here and we may wonder why we're being shown these kinds of events in the first place, this was done pretty well. I liked the atmosphere in most scenes and the feeling of suspense was pretty strong when it needed to be. The acting was not good but it was definitely better than most films of this ilk. The thing I liked about this movie most is that it didn't pull punches and definitely should not have. That is kind of the point of horror films and it is probably the reason the other HorrorFest films don't work as well as this does. Frontier(s) is to After Dark Films' "8 films to die for" as Takashi Miike's Imprint was to Showtime's Masters of Horror, meaning that it was initially rejected but is probably more true to the horror genre than the accepted works were to begin with.
There were some legitimately grueling scenes that pushed my boundaries in terms of comfort. So, as a modern horror film it worked pretty effectively and I give it a mixed review leaning toward a slight recommendation. However, if you know you're into this sort of thing, then this movie is top notch.
on March 28, 2014
This is a well-composed, solidly executed film and lovers of cruelty and jaw-dropping violence will likely enjoy it. It's not great--but very good for sure.
I'm beginning to develop a fondness for extreme French cinema. Martyrs (2008) and High Tension (2003) delivered some solid splatter along with well-thought stories that didn't seem run-of-the-mill, formulaic or familiar. Frontiers may follow the ABCs of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, but it remains well-executed and moderately interesting.
Four morally questionable twentysomethings flee to the country from Paris after political events result in violent riots citywide. They find their way to an inn run by some rather crude, aggressive, lascivious folk…two attractive women, and their rough brother Goetz (Samuel Le Bihan; Brotherhood of the Wolf). They exude a strange mixture of unnervingly forced hospitality and an almost sociopathic abrasiveness. During their stay we come to find that much more of this strange family runs things around here…and not in the most conventional of ways.
This twisted family turns out to be a bunch of cannibalistic neo-Nazis with a patriarchal pecking order and they have plans for their new guests. From here, as with any Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn, Hostel or Hills Have Eyes film, we sit back and watch while wondering if any of our protagonists make it out alive.
Writer/director Xavier Gens (The ABCs of Death - X is for XXL) brings us from a socially/sociopathically awkward bed and breakfast to a tour de force of violence, cruelty and gore. From hooks through Achilles tendons to using boltcutters on Achilles tendons, this film provided me with ample reasons to wince...and a lot of reasons for me to fear for my Achilles tendons! The sound editors clearly had their hands full with all of the bloodsplatter, bludgeoning, crushing and stabbing going on.
I was especially pleased with the acting. I don't speak French, but the fear of the victims felt real and the family had a more intelligent and methodical Texas Chainsaw-esque vibe to their unsettling behavior and fearful respect of their father. The fear was certainly merited and shared by the audience because of the tone set by the constant violence. Although the violence never turns to rape or sexualized violence (like so many movies just out to shock us at whatever cost), there is abundant violence against women and the ease with which it's executed is truly illustrative of the soulessness of our villains.
I found this to be a well-composed, solidly executed film and lovers of cruelty and jaw-dropping violence will likely enjoy it.
This review was of the unrated director's cut, which was not available with English dubbing. Surprisingly, the subtitles seemed poorly translated at times. I won't explain…it's no big deal, but you'll see what I mean unless you can follow the film in French.
on December 10, 2014
If you are looking for a cross between Hostel and Texas Chainsaw massacre in French...look no further. I will do my best not to spoil the movie. There are some satisfying scenes in this film once the "bad guys" are in full swing (no pun intended). The special effects are difficult to differentiate from reality at points. These days technology can deceive the eye quite a bit. Luckily this isn't a total despair film. Traumatic, gory and graphic...yes. But how French movies go the ending still felt more complete than most French films I've seen in the past. Reference Martyrs...that ending has no resolution at all other than for certain characters and the viewer is left holding what little humanity left they have by a string. If you like your movies raw and bloody this one does not disappoint. You may even get some satisfaction from some of the actions of the "victim" as the victim attempts to escape. I know I did. This movie is not for the weak of stomach. Be prepared to hold on to the edge of your seat and see some fairly shocking images. But if this movie does not shock you...then reference Martyrs....