Review : Frontier(s) (2007)

Frontier(s), directed by Xavier Gens, was released in 2007 and definitely deserves its place in the French Extreme wave. Though this brutal film is well made and has a lot of qualities, I didn’t enjoy it. It falls in the category of films which qualities I recognize but are not my taste. If you watch my videos, you know where I stand : I love blood and gore, I don’t like extreme and disgusting movies. For me, Frontier(s) falls into that category.

Paris is burning as a political announcement results in a series of violent riots throughout the country. A group of thieves find this to be the perfect opportunity to stage several robberies. Chased the police they find refuge in an inn which, instead of a safe haven, turns out to be a place of nightmares as it is run by a family of neo-nazis with an extreme ideology and violent tendencies.

Frontier(s) references a lot of classic films of the genre and it will remind you of Hostel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. Though it is clearly inspired by those classics, it doesn’t limit itself to rehashing them and is definitely unique. Though the writers attempt to add layers to the plot, for instance adding a political background in the first act of the film, the story has been told countless times before : a group of teenagers are targeted by a family of degenerates. I also found Frontier(s) to be a complete mess when it comes to the story it is trying to tell. There are too many elements added, ideas are introduced left and right and some aspects did feel irrelevant to the main storyline. For example, I didn’t find the characters being neo-nazis to add anything to the overall story. It did feel like the director couldn’t decide if he wanted his characters to be neo-nazis, cannibals, degenerates or cult fanatics so he decided to use it all which results in a complete mess.

A positive aspect of Frontier(s) is its characters. In most horror films, characters are unlikable and annoying and it is hard to care about their fate. Though the main characters are indeed a bit annoying, you do not dislike them to the point where you are rooting for them to be butchered. I especially liked Karine Testa ‘s performance as Yasmine, the main character. Her acting was sometimes over-the-top but I thought she did a fine job at portraying fear and especially mental breakdown.

From a cinematography standpoint, Frontier(s) is a well made film. The practical effects are very effective and the kills are creative, which is always a good thing (especially when you watch a lot of horror movies, the kills can become repetitive so it’s always a nice touch when filmmakers are creative). I didn’t like the way the action scenes were edited, it is too fast paced and cut really fast so it’s not enjoyable to watch. There is a lot of action in the film but, unlike some movies, it doesn’t mean there is no tension (there is plenty). Now, let’s address the gore. It was too much for my taste, hence why I didn’t the film. Frontier(s) is bloody, disgusting and gross. To sum it up : it is a very nasty film. In my opinion, it tends to be gory for the sake of being gory. The director wanted to add as much shock value to his film as possible and he definitely succeeded.

It isn’t an easy task to review a film you didn’t enjoy but still find to be of good quality. Though I didn’t like the film, strictly because of my personal taste, I can say it is a good film, despite its many flaws. I recommend it if you enjoy films like Hostel, have a strong stomach, like bloodfests and don’t mind poor writing.

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