Remember when you’d hear the words “Japanese” and “horror” muttered in the same breathe and instantly your ears would perk up? All of that is in the past as the new word of the day is “French,” and once you’ve seen Xavier Gens’ FRONTIER(S) you’ll understand why. It’s too bad these films can’t get solid releases here in the States (because of the subtitles and violence), because a film like this could literally change everything. In short, FRONTIER(S) is the next HAUTE TENSION, and for those of you who didn’t like Alex Aja’s film… FRONTIER(S) blows it out of the water. Yes, it’s that damn good.
FRONTIER(S) is a heart pounding, uber-violent, and yet thought-provoking horror-thriller. Xavier Gens has brought everything to the table showing inspirations from pretty much any classic horror film you can think of. Before I dive into the best part of the film, the gore/blood, I want to chat a bit about the screenplay, which is the main reason why this films is so phenomenal. Personally, I hate violence in film when there is no reason for it – like it’s only being done for the aim of shocking the audience – FRONTIER(S) carries a heavy social commentary that gives meaning to everything in Gens’ film. The film was made in response to a near rightwing take-over on France.
There is so much to talk about starting with the development of the characters. The film opens with our rebels/robbers separated with the plan on meeting up at a hotel in the country. They are from a world where the government is falling and chaos has erupted in the streets. Our lead girl, Yasmina (Karina Tesra), is on a mission to get an abortion so her kid doesn’t have to grow up in “this type of world.” It’s obvious that her rights to have an abortion have been taken away and she refuses to accept this new order. The group is separated as one of their friends is shot; three of them head to the hospital while the other two head off to the country to find a hotel. The two get there before the rest and the fun instantly begins.
We are then introduced to the Von Geisler clan (family), who treat these two unsuspecting victims like Gods. The suspense is imminent as instantly we know what they’re in for – death. The family consists of two hot sisters, one deformed sister, three brothers and the father; they are slowly introduced throughout the film. The star treatment doesn’t last very long as the duo is already in severe trouble and fighting for their lives. I guess you can say this is the “huge opening,” only it never stops from this point forth.
Enter our next duo, where things progress much quicker. While Yasmina’s ex, Alex (Aurelien Wiik), hits a restroom we are introduced to the father of the family (Jean-Pierre Joris) who is said to be “extremely strict” by one of the daughters (who is also very afraid of him). When he comes into the room it’s a daunting moment, as we instantly understand that he’s a neo-Nazi sympathizer – the heir of the household. As he works the room he whistles an old Nazi tune that will send chills down your spine. While in the restroom Alex goes exploring and discovers his friend’s body hanging upside down, hooked by his ankles (a la TEXAS CHIANSAW MASSACRE). He runs to get Yasmina out and before you know it they’re both chained by their necks to a wall in a barn with a bunch of pigs. After Yasmina escapes the father snips both of Alex’s Achilles tendons so he can’t run. From here on out a bloodbath ensues.
What I found incredibly impressive about Gans’ story is that characters aren’t just in there to die. In a typical slasher film we meet a character, then the stalker will kill them and that’s that. In FRONTIER(S) every character returns in some way or another and is quite intricate to the storyline. In addition, the film carries an awesome social commentary about raising a kid in a horrible word… or quite possibly a horrible family. When you’re rooting for the main character’s baby to die before it’s born, you know you’re watching some heavy.
But enough about the plot, it would take another ten paragraphs to even attempt to organize any thoughts. Quite simply FRONTIER(S) is a circus freak show of terror; a horrible nightmare. The film is loaded with colorful characters, when one of them dies it actually has an emotional impact (or could it be from how insanely brutal they’re killed?) We see people beaten with poles, mallets, sledgehammers and axes(!); one character is burned alive in a steaming room, while others are mutilated, cut up and served as a dinner… and we’re just talking about the ‘heroes,’ just wait until you see what happens to the Nazi motherf-ckers! There is so much blood and gore in this film you’re going to think you’ve popped a blood vessel in both of your eyes – imagine the lake at the end of THE DESCENT, only it’s on land! The audience was hooting, hollering, whistling and screaming as FRONTIER(S) came to an epic close.
Seeing the film a second time just ensured my belief that FRONTIER(S) deserves a perfect score. There is a not a single wasted moment of screen time as the film nears perfection and will be remembered forever as one of the greatest genre films of all time.
Xavier Gens’ FRONTIER(S) is like a constant drop on the roller coaster, the thrill never ends. It carries little nods to films like DELIVERANCE, THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE DESCENT and HAUTE TENSION. Imagine the best of all of those films thrown into a melting pot of gore and stewed to perfection. FRONTIER(S) is so freaking hardcore that it’s guaranteed to knock you on our ass so hard that you’ll be bruised by it for life, leaving a little scar deep inside you. This film will not be easily forgotten or shaken off, I guarantee this is one for the ages… you are about to enter a new frontier of horror.