OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Frontière(s) / Frontier(s) (2007)


Anyone who remembers my enthusiastic review of Inside will probably remember that I said I was now looking forward to French horror flicks. And so I did with Frontier(s). Before actually watching the movie, I read a review that promised me a brutal, merciless, sadistic, unforgettable movie that truly explores the boundaries of gore and violence.

Sounds promising. But, the problem with Frontier(s) is just that: It only sounds promising. What we actually get is a mediocre movie.

Let's do this the good old way, shall we?

The pros:

The camerawork is solid, and at times it even shines. The use of colour is also a big bonus - they make the movie appear much more gritty than it actually is. Also, the violence that happens stays within the realm of realism - I have to admit that I truly enjoy watching "simple" violence, such as someone kicking someone else in the face. There was no over-the-top gore or brutalism, but the little we got to see was... nice. Not good, not great, nothing to keep me interested or on the edge of my seat, but the director/writer Xavier Gens had a few good ideas there.

Also, one big plus is the location the latter part of the movie was set in: An old, dark and grisly looking sprawling farm (for lack of a better word, I think it was actually a Vierkanthof... but I'm happy to be corrected, as always) to which I took an instant liking. I would have welcomed to see more of the location, especially as it added a somewhat grim flair to the movie.

Uhm... oh, and the script had some good ideas.

On to the cons.

Granted, I was expecting a bit much from Frontier(s). I shouldn't have watched Inside before watching this one. I shouldn't have read the positive reviews that promised me unrelenting horror and insane, gritty violence that would make me cringe in my seat. I shouldn't have this, I shouldn't have that... but, the problem is: I have watched other movies with highest expectations, and they didn't fail to deliver. I have also watched other movies with no expectations at all, and they managed to be brilliant. So... I can't just blame it on my expectations that I find Frontier(s) to be mediocre at best.

First of all... is it really necessary to make the protagonists into petty criminals? I don't say that the protagonists we're supposed to sympathise with should always be good, law abiding, god fearing people, but portraying them as a bunch of a little retarded bastards isn't exactly going to make me root for them. Unless, of course, I am a bit of a retarded bastard, or at least I suppose so.
Another thing that bugged me is that there is absolutely nothing that ties the beginning of the movie together with what happens during the rest of it. I mean.... riots in the streets of Paris? Check. We know that it happened, so maybe the reference to them serves to anchor the movie a bit more in the consensus reality we share. Maybe it is just an accepted way to show people shooting, throwing molotow cocktails and stuff that burns, though. Young petty criminals on their way to Amsterdam (also known as The Holy Land)? Okay. After all, we need to get our protagonists to the place where the, uhm, terror, for lack of a better word, can unfold freely. I'll buy that. But... still. It feels as if we're jumping from a movie about the life and times of young criminals to ...well. Some sort of horror flick. There just isn't any reason for it.

Also... seriously. This movie is the first one I have watched that doesn't bother to give us any sort of background information about the motivation of the cannibal killer family because of reductio ad Hitlerum (my philologist's soul shivers with disgust at this mangled Latin, but alas, a term is a term).

I mean... "they are evil and kidnap women for breeding purposes and slaughter and eat lots of other people BECAUSE THEY ARE CANNIBAL NAZIS!!!" - I'm sorry, but it just doesn't work. It just doesn't.

Also, the whole semi-subplot about keeping the bloodline pure wasn't very believable either. Either Monsieur Gens wasn't entirely aware of the whole Nazi idea ("Aryan race" and all that crap), or he just didn't bother to think about the fact that a family of Nazis who want to keep their bloodline "pure" wouldn't exactly go for kidnapping women/girls with dark brown/black hair and dark brown eyes and a somewhat not exactly "Aryan" complexion. Or maybe I just have been damaged by 4 torturous years of learning every useless fact about the NS regime at school... yes, Austria has a guilt complex and takes it out on innocent school children.

However, that was one of my other major concerns. Obsessed and crazy Nazis wouldn't breed with people who don't hold up to Third Reich standards. ESPECIALLY obsessed and crazy Nazis. Couldn't he have casted someone blonde in the role of "breeding puppet"?

Another point of ...well, another con: The German. Maybe it's just because my native language happens to be German, but damn it, man, get someone who can actually speak the language if you want to portray a ruthless Nazi-leftover from WWII. Whilst it has been pointed out to me that it is more than likely than someone who spent more than 50 (60?) years in France in self-imposed exile after WWII will develop a French accent and might not pronounce his native language entirely correctly anymore, some blunders happen that just would not happen. You'll probably only get them if you're fluent in German, though.

As BC of Horror Movie A Day already pointed out, the subtitles also are an atrocity against mankind. I won't speak about them anymore. Besides mentioning that they truly hurt deep inside. As in... it's hard sometimes not to start laughing because the translations are so absurd.

Then there's the script. Some good ideas are in there, and those good ideas have been partially realised in the movie (I liked the scene where one of our protagonists is being butchered), but in my opinion, every scene that showed promise could have been realised in a better way. Uniformly, there was something lacking, and that just took away from the interesting parts.

However, besides for the few good ideas in the script, the rest of it is just all over the place. Frontier(s) doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be, and it doesn't know what kind of script it has. There are blatant incongruencies (like when the two guys have the car accident and fall down a bridge... after they wake up, they suddenly feel compelled to climb up a disturbingly tight shaft. Why didn't they just climb back up to the fucking street where they came from? Did I miss something important there that made it utterly imperative that they climb up that shaft? I am still puzzled...), and most of the latter parts of the movie feel like they've been taken from Hostel or Texas Chainsaw Massacre and a host of other survival-/"evil house full of evil people who kill other, nice people"-movies. It's just not really... something new.

Don't get me wrong, it's not bad. It's a solid little flick that shows promise in some scenes and some parts of the script, and if you want to spend a night with friends, watching horror flicks, and like movies like Hostel, then by all means, watch it. Just don't expect anything you haven't seen yet.

Also, the amount of bodies hanging around in the cooling room was ridiculously high.

So... yeah. I'm not impressed. Seen it before, and better done, with more shock value.

5.5/10 Nazis who can't speak German and are EVIL!!!