Once again, France proves it's the capital of horror movies. Xavier Gens' "Frontier(s)" is an unsettling, thrilling and politically charged fear film that deserves a place on every self respecting horror fan's "must watch" list. It's a triumph, plain and simple.
Originally slated to be a part of last year's Horrorfest (the annual Lionsgate fest of horror films that plays cineplexes around the country), it managed to get its own separate release it was simply so good. And like "Inside" and "Them," it's a horror movie that pulls no punches. Interestingly, it's also set in the midst of the French riots, something that provided a backdrop to "Inside."
The film opens with the riots taking place and a group of young Arab people taking advantage of the riots to stage a hesit. When the robbery goes wrong, they split up and head out of town. Keeping in touch via cell phone, they decide to meet up at a hostel miles away from the city.
The hostel two of the men find is run by two strangely sexy women and their weird brothers. The two guys naturally get laid. But when one of the brothers shows up and confronts the men for having sex with his sisters, things get very weird. The young robbers are attacked and, running for their lives, realize they have gone from a very bad situation in the inner city to a much worse one in the French countryside. This family is apparently psychotic. In one of the film's most chilling scenes, the two attempt to get away by crawling through an ultra-tight cavern -- a scene reminiscent of the claustrophobic horrors of "The Descent." Referring to one of the victims as a "rag head," we realize there's a racial component to the victimization.
Things keep getting worse as their other two friends arrive. Once the near-dead body of their comrade is discovered hanging by his feet, the two remaining survivors are chained in a farmhouse along with the family's pigs. We learn that the family is, in fact, led by a surviving Nazi war criminal. And, yes, they're cannibals. Despite her lack of aryan blood, the family plans to make one of their new kidnappees (Karina Testa) an honorary family member -- and put her unborn child to some kind of use.
"Frontier(s)" has obvious similarities to "Hostel," but it's much more inspired by "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," with a family of lunatics killing off a bunch of young folks, then having the surviving female over for a psychotic dinner. Gens, who also directed the action film "Hitman," infuses the film with brutal gunplay. The film's last third climaxes in the most gut-wrenching gun battle I've ever seen.
What I liked best about "Frontiers," however, has to be the film's political edge. There are references to fascism early on during news reports about the riots -- and obvious digs at Sarkozy. What we're seeing in the right-wing reaction to the riots is just simple hate. That hate expresses itself in truest form with the sick, cannibal, Nazi family. In one scene, the Nazi patriarch cuts the achilles tendons of one of his victims and explains that's how they kept workers in line in South African mines to prevent them from running away. "So they could work in peace."
The film reminds us that the horrors we are witnessing onscreens are things that have happened -- and really do happen. It's the whites subjugating the browns -- and taking sadistic pleasure out of the pain they're causing -- and here's what it looks like up close. Despite all its primal brutality, "Frontier(s)" is a deep, intelligent and very political movie. As shockingly sadistic as what we're watching seems to be, it's not far off from what we saw at Abu Ghairab or -- as the chief villain tells us -- mines in South Africa.
That's not to say the film's story is very realistic. The family has a freezer full of dozens of dead bodies. Like "Hostel," you figure at some point a cop somewhere would notice so many people missing -- and trace it to the hostel in question. But, in the end, it's just a horror movie.
Well not just any horror movie. Like a number of other French fear films released this year, "Frontier(s)" is easily one of the best horror films of recent years. You have to hand it to the French these days. They're cranking out the very best stuff.
The French have always had a thing for making great bloody horror movies. Early on with the classic "Eyes Without a Face"; Jean Rollin's "The Grapes of Death", and "The Living Dead Girl", for example; on to more modern favorites like "Haute Tension" and "Inside"; and this outstanding entry. Frontier[s] is a serious contender for best horror movie of the year.
Posted by JK on May 16, 2008
I wanted to say that!! LOL
Posted by sandedfaceless on May 17, 2008
This movie rocks. Remind me to not visit the French countryside any time soon...
Posted by Sandra-Vancouver B.C on October 19, 2008
I have to agree that the French are by far putting out the best horror films that I have seen in a long time. Edge of your seat entertainment. Keep it coming.
Posted by Jeff g on April 9, 2009
Too many social and political overtones for my tastes. Whtie people =Evil, Everyone else = victim. Lame movie. Waste of my time.
Posted by Sutta Cain 666 on April 13, 2009
By far one of the best films I have watched in a long time
Posted by Unamed on April 24, 2009
An awesome film that keeps you hooked (No pun intended) the entire time.
Posted by Anonymous on May 24, 2009
Ironic that they portray the persecuted as Arabs, when in fact in modern day Europe the Arabs are subjugating the native populations of European nations. don't believe me? Ask anyone in Sweden about Arab immigrants and they'll tell you the same thing.
Posted by Dan on August 14, 2009
Over all a good horror movie, a bit slow at the start but when it kicks in it stays in high gear. The last 30 seconds is probably some of the best ive seen in any horror or any other movie for that matter in years. not as good as "High Tension" but good enough for a rent or if you really like movies like this not a bad buy either.... my only beef (not really a beef im just a little confused) with the movie is that there is almost to much going on in terms of horror... its like they took "hostle", "Texas" and for a few seconds they throw in some "descent" just to spice things up, not to mention the elements of revenge horror at the end.... the more i think about this movie the better it gets...... WATCH IT!
Posted by Sandra-Vancouver BC on September 5, 2009
My compliments go out to the French, for making some of the most entertaining, original horror movies I have seen in a long time, if ever. I can't get enough. Film making at it's best. Wow!
Posted by Billy on November 27, 2009
Great movie but typically dumb "artist politics" shoved into our faces. I think it get it: Anyone who disapproved of the riots is a Racist Nazi! Haha thats genius!
I love these french horror movies(may they save the genre!) but the politics are like something out of the 5th grade. Please Dear God will they just shut up with that shit and make scary movies?
Posted by Paul - England on January 10, 2010
Anyone know where in France this is filmed?
Posted by Katja on April 10, 2010
Paul, the beginning of the movie like all the riots and stuff was filmed in Paris, the rest was filmed in Switzerland, not sure where though sorry.
Posted by isaac on October 24, 2011
Posted by lolz on November 25, 2011
I liked the political aspect and for some reason I like seeing french peps being killed by Germans
I should get that checked out
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