Movie Review – Frontier(s) (2007)

Writer-director Xavier Gens’s Frontier(s) (2007) is a French amalgam of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Hostel (2005), and The Hills Have Eyes remake (2006). It is another European offering in the extreme gore subset, and though it is not a subgenre I generally gravitate toward, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was originally meant to be a part of 2007’s Horrorfest but was pulled due to receiving an NC-17 rating from the MPAA for its graphic violence.

Set in the future of a right-wing takeover amidst civil unrest, four outlaws try to flee the country – the main character, Yasmina, doing so mainly to receive an abortion so her child will not be born into “this type of world.” This setting may at first seem rather unnecessary and contrived until the nature of the murderous family they encounter is revealed, in their deadly splendor, as Nazis. To make sense of this, one must take into account France’s history as well as the destructive riots that occurred in Paris back in 2005, which resulted from high youth unemployment and the failure of French society to integrate its immigrant population. One of our protagonists is a Muslim, which is certainly significant. The movie stakes itself as a morbid morality tale about the dangers of fascism and intolerance, with the murderous Von Geisler family serving as the horrifying culmination of both. Whether this metaphor succeeds or not is debatable. Nevertheless, it does offer an interesting layer to ample amounts of blood that splatter seemingly every frame in the second half of the film.

Maud Forget and Karina Testa in Frontier(s).
Maud Forget and Karina Testa in Frontier(s).

Yasmina and her friends are subjected to unspeakable torture via eugenics and cannibalism. This is not merely a torture flick, however, it is also a revenge one, and the best gore is reserved for the dispensing of the Nazis. A scene with a table saw, though predictable, is nonetheless incredibly satisfying.

Truly, if one were to simply read the script the film would sound awfully hokey, but a talented and well-chosen cast brings the characters and dialogue to life. The deformed daughter and mother to the subterranean mine children, especially, is a presence that captures one’s attention and sympathy. Despite some poor cinematography, the film succeeds. In the wrong hands, Frontier(s) could indeed have easily been terrible, but it manages to be an entertaining ride despite some of its narrative shortcomings.

Grade: B-