Frontière(s) | Varied Celluloid

Frontière(s)

Posted by Josh Samford On April - 7 - 2009
The Plot: A group fo young thieves in France have just pulled off a big heist, and right in time for a series of riots to break out over Paris with the election of an unpopular conservative candidate to presidency. With the city in utter chaos, the group make a break for it and head towards the country with the intention of meeting up, splitting the cash and leading better lives. However, like you may have guessed, things don’t go as planned when the group (who have split up after the robbery due to one of their own being shot during the escape and needing to be dropped off at the hospital) stop in at a local hotel one by one. This hotel bed and breakfast isn’t your normal mom and pop set-up. Turns out the establishment is run by a psychotic family of cannibalistic nazis, and our group of youngsters will have to survive an onslaught of sheer terror over the course of the film. Who will survive the horrors? You’ll have to watch to find out!


The Review: It has been a while hasn’t it? Well, since I’ve written an overtly negative review that is. I know, you see the cover for Frontière(s) there to the left and read me talking about negative reviews with only one word running through the cortex of your mind: blasphemy. Outright blasphemy to speak ill against one of the new champions of horror from the great French hope. However, I have to take a stand, for all the considerable hype Frontière(s) has been given over time and for all the ballyhoo that has arrived around it over the past year or so – it is a sore disappointment only to find a relatively generic slasher film only featuring a French soundtrack rather than English or Italian. I won’t convince you that Frontière(s) is a poorly executed film or that it’s even a particularly bad slasher film – but for the same reason many other modern slasher flicks aren’t jumping into my top ten, this is not the 1980’s any more and if you’re not contributing to the genre then you’ve sorely lost my interest.

It’s not that Frontière(s) doesn’t attempt to change up the genre pastiche in some ways. The much talked about addition of political subtext does change things up a bit and I’m sure for some astute French audiences they can maybe root out more of the complexities of the story – but after the first twenty minutes fly by and the initial set-up has taken place; I unfortunately find nothing but your average “crazed family of killers” scenario that is ever so popular right now. Fans of the film can argue amongst themselves about how the fascist family represents X political party and the dismemberment of X teenager shows the severance of youth culture from political idealism but it seems like such reactions are, much like the rampaging riots in the introduction of the film, juvenile and reactionary. However, I am not a political pundit nor have any expertise on modern French politics. I simply see a film full of young people being obliterated in a very Texas-Chainsaw type manner, and I sit back and say this: I have seen this all before, so why should I care?

There are probably quite a few ways to introduce political activism into the slasher genre, if Romero could do it with zombies then surely there’s someone out there to do it with serial killers and teenagers. However, I don’t think Frontière(s) is the film that nails it. Truthfully, after watching the feature, I was reminded of Wrong Turn so much that I am curious why that particular film hasn’t developed as strong of a cult audience as this film has. I suppose it comes down to the fact that Wrong Turn has no pretensions to its very simple structure, whereas Frontière(s) takes a more sincere approach to its material. Although I don’t feel that the film ever really materializes into much more than your average “cannibal family” romp that seems to be all the rage these days, it does at least hope to aspire for more. I suppose I can find admiration in the film for that, but ultimately I see it as a flawed feature that doesn’t quite reach the levels it or the audience hopes that it will achieve.

Still, after all of my ranting, you may still find my two out of five rating a bit unforgiving. You may even be right. After all, most of the Ilsa films have better ratings than that! However, there’s a scale I use for films like Ilsa and then there’s a scale I would use for films such as Frontière(s). Frontière(s) is a relatively big budget affair for the marketplace it was made in, and the slick polish of the film shows it. Xavier Gens is a highly touted director and although the visual sheen is here in full effect, and the violence is plentiful – these two aspects simply didn’t make it a great film for me. Simply put, there are only four Ilsa: She Wolf films in the world, as cheesy and repetitive as they may be, but there are probably a dozen “Frontière(s)” out there. Sometimes they’re called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn or sometimes The Hills Have Eyes. If you’re looking for a gory entry into this subgenre through a French perspective, you couldn’t go wrong and for fans of this new modern gore splattered movement coming out of France; this will probably be required viewing. I would probably recommend checking out ‘Inside’ first however.

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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