The wonderful world of the public library strikes again. Like I have said previously, the library is great source for movies. I was perusing the movie section when I saw Frontier(s) staring at me from the foreign film section. The cover was pretty striking and had the “8 Horror Films To Die For” stamp from Horrorfest. And hey, it's French! I don't think I've reviewed a horror movie from France yet. Heck, I don't think I've ever scene a French horror movie. Well, that's what this blog is for; new movies and new experiences.
Frontier(s) is a 2007 French horror movie starring Estelle Lefebure as Yasmine. A far-right extremist has been elected in France which leads to rioting in the streets. Alex, Tom, Farid, Sami, and his sister Yasmine, who is three months pregnant with Alex's baby, commit a lucrative robbery before leaving the chaos of the city. The group splits up, with Tom and Farid going ahead with the money, while Alex and Yasmine take a shot Sami to the emergency room. Sami dies, but not before he tells Yasmine to keep the baby. Tom and Farid arrive at a small family-run inn in the French countryside. There they meet two beautiful women, Gilberet and Klaudia, and their musclebound brother Goetz. Tom and Farid text directions to the inn to Yasmine before being seduced by the two women. After the sexy time, Tom and Farid are brutally attacked by all three and their brother Karl. They try to escape in their car, but Goetz runs them off a small cliff. Injured, but alive, they crawl into a mineshaft that leads back to the house and Tom is captured by the third brother, Hans. Farid gropes his way through the shaft while avoiding the family's deformed children. He is eventually trapped in a steam room and cooked to death by Hans. Unaware, Alex and Yasmine arrive at the inn and are soon beaten and captured. The head patriarch of the family, von Geisler, and wants Yasmine to wed Karl and usher in a new generation for him. It is revealed that he and the rest of the family are cannibal Nazis and their house stores the bodies of many past victims. He kills Alex and has another sister, Eva, care for Yasmine. Eva reveals that she was kidnapped and had a few children with Hans, all of whom were rejected due to “complications”. At dinner, von Geisler announces that Karl will lead the family now, much to the chagrin of Goetz. Yasmine grabs a knife and takes von Geisler hostage. Hans accidentally kills von Geisler, and Karl shoots him. Yasmine makes a run for it under a hail of gunfire. Will she be able to escape this deranged family?
"It smells like Arby's in here"
Originally, Frontier(s) received an NC-17 rating and there's a good reason for that because damn is this violent. It was so bad that they couldn't even show it during the 2007 Horrorfest. ER doctors in the worst neighborhoods don't see this much blood in an hour and a half. Gorehounds will salivate over the various gruesome injuries and deaths. It can be most closely compared to Hostel, High Tension, and House of 1000 Corpses, but it is unique enough to not be considered a ripoff. Where as a movie like Hostel can be considered “torture porn” where gruesome acts are committed just to make the audience squirm and shriek, the violence in this move has a specific purpose to the story and isn't really violence for the sake of violence. That's not to say there aren't some brutal scenes. I won't say exactly what happens, but an Achilles tendon does meet and “cutting” fate. The story itself is pretty thrilling from beginning to end and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The social commentary is appropriate and the parallels between what is happening Yasmine and the country is much appreciated.
Thankfully, the movie is actually in French with English subtitles. I can't tell you how many movies are ruined with terrible dubbing. Director Xavier Gens has a great eye for horror by using creative camera shots and proper lighting.The acting is good all around, each role convincing. One slight problem I had was after going through some of the atrocities, Yasmine goes through a sort of shock and has a trembling twitch. I applaud the realism and in small doses it would have been good, but it happened a bit too much and made her look silly. If you sped it up and put Benny Hill music, the movie would have been slapstick. It's a small complaint and when you get that specific, you're really fishing for things to worry about, but it stuck with me nonetheless.
That cleaver better be clean!
Frontier(s) is a thrilling and gruesome horror movie with an interesting story to keep the action going. There is a lot of violence so this may not be appropriate for some younger viewers. Of course, plenty of violence is inflicted on the Nazis, which is always good, because fuck Nazis. The acting and directing are both solid and the social commentary is done well without being too heavy-handed. It's nice to see other countries getting in on the horror act and I'd love to see more of what France has to offer. If you have a strong stomach, make sure to check out this movie.