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Frontier(s) (2007)

A gang of young thieves flee Paris during the violent aftermath of a political election, only to hole up at an inn run by cannibalistic neo-Nazis. Bloodshed ensues as the gang have to fight to survive.

Frontiers begins by showing us news flashes of an extremist right-wing candidate who has been elected to the French presidency which sparks riots in Paris. Hoping to escape Paris but needing cash, Alex, Tom, Farid, the pregnant Yasmine, and her brother Sami take advantage of the chaos to pull off a robbery. Sami is shot and the group splits up: Alex and Yasmine take Sami to a hospital, and Tom and Farid take the money to a family run inn near the border. Initially they are happy to have found a respite from the police so they call Alex and Yasmine to join them at the inn. However, they soon discover that their hosts are sadistic cannibals and part of a Nazi family headed by the deranged patriarch, former SS officer and Nazi war criminal Le Von Geisler. His evil plan is to make Yasmine the brood mare for a new Aryan master race. Still with me? 🙂

Now it may seem as though I have given the whole film away, but it really isn’t the case. That’s the briefest synopsis I can use (thanks for your help wikipedia!) which covers the core characters and how they end up in the location they do, whilst trying to interest people in a French language film that has a political theme all the while being full of brutal violence and torture. What goes on between the time they arrive and when the end credits roll is impossible to describe and all the more reason to watch this film. It is quite simply one of the hardest films I’ve ever had to pin point what genre this would fall in, so instead I’ll just throw out some details and hopefully not spoil too much!

Frontiers was intended to be one of the ‘8 Films To Die For‘ at Horrorfest 2007, but due to the MPAA giving the film the dreaded NC-17 rating, it instead hit a limited number of US theaters unrated for one weekend before being released on DVD the following week. It was directed by Xavier Gens who went on to direct the American video game adaptation ‘Hitman’ and The Divide. The film is brilliantly shot and we get a great feeling of claustrophobia as the net around the gang trying to escape gets tighter and one by one they are killed off in very surprising ways. Not in traditional sequence either which definitely adds to the experience, never knowing what will happen next, nothing predictable on show here.

The gang of thieves is made up of a mixed aged and raced french cast who are all great and pull off their roles perfectly. The gang of youths we follow from the start are your typical movie group of friends – there’s the arrogant one, a quiet one, pregnant one etc but by the end you end up rooting for them to survive their ordeal or in some cases get a quick death to end their suffering. And there is definitely some suffering on show here. Burning, knives, axes, guns, achilles heels getting cut – and so many more twisted and unbelievable scenes are in this movie – it looked frighteningly realistic so credit to the effects people as this was some of the best/worst looking gore and violence I’ve seen in a film. No wonder there was such an interest in the european horror scene when this kind of film was being released alongside others such as Martyrs & Inside to name just two.

After the initial half hour or so of the film and once we realise what the inn actually represents, the action never lets up. It was quite a long running time at around 108 minutes but it flew by and barely gave me time to catch my breath. Towards the end it became very reminiscent of the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘ with a family sit-down dinner and the gang trying to escape and survive this hell. There are other plot twists and turns too which all add to the overall experience so I’ll wrap this review up before I spoil anything else.

It isn’t perfect, there are odd horror movie clichés where a bad guy/girl will just know where someone is hiding, but these points are so minor and easy to overlook in the case of Frontiers. If your interested in something very different to the usual Hollywood horror films then please give Frontiers a watch. Definitely not for the faint hearted but if you like extreme blood-shed and a good story then this is the film for you.

8 stars

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37 Comments

  1. theipc

     /  December 5, 2012

    I thought this movie was all kinds of good until the last act, which I won’t spoil for your readers. Now that I know someone else whose seen this, I would like to ask you something but it would be spoiler-y if I do it here.

    feel free to delete this out if you want, but would you mind checking this out when you have some time we can discuss??

    http://isaacspictureconclusions.com/2012/01/27/frontiers-2007-three-top-hats/

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    • For sure buddy. I’ll head over in a little while and we can spoil the shit out of it. 🙂

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      • theipc

         /  December 5, 2012

        Sweet – I published mine back in January when I had three followers and got 20 hits a day so no one’s ever read it : )

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        • 20 hits a day is good 🙂

          Yeah this was originally done when I started, but it had 1 like and about 3 views so I re-edited it and thought it deserved doing properly.

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        • theipc

           /  December 5, 2012

          (I thought we’d talked about this before)

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        • Yeah, not sure where, it wasnt on my comments lol, as it gone none……probably somewhere random I imagine.

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  2. jmount43

     /  December 5, 2012

    This movie fucking kicked some ass!

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  3. Sound interesting…. would you say you need a strong stomach for this one then? Don’t count myself as ‘faint of heart’ but I have my limits.

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    • For certain bits, maybe. Have you seen any of the other ‘french new wave’ stuff? Martyrs, Inside? They are in the same vein really, violent and bloody, great stories but they dont hold back on the graphic violence side.

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  4. Thomas Priday

     /  December 5, 2012

    Nice review, Tyson! I Two months ago, I would have been able to stomach these films. But recently I’ve watched so much Welles, Fellini and Ozu, which has little violence, let alone blood shed, that I’d probably feel sick now. 😛

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    • Lol, cheers Thomas.

      Always nice to break things up with some happy films, but I tend to enjoy these type of films more, which says a lot about me 🙂

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  5. Just my opinion here but… I think this is one of the weaker French Extreme horror flicks. I much prefer Martyrs, Switchblade Romance, Ils, Man Bites Dog etc. Frontiers feels largely derivative to me.

    There’s an awful lot of stuff thrown in and unexplained. You have also have lot of horror cliches and stupid behaviour. There were SO many times the protagonists could’ve escaped, only to do something silly.

    It was still fun but I’d rate it a 6ish. But hey, that’s me.

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    • Thats fair enough Ben, I prefer Martyrs but the others werent as powerful to me.

      I mean, they did try to escape a lot, and nearly managed a couple of times, but their hosts were good at reeling them back in.

      6 is still not a bad score! Cheers for sharing your thoughts Ben, much appreciated 🙂

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  6. gregory moss

     /  December 5, 2012

    Nice write-up Tyson. Not sure this one’s for me, though. 🙂 I just realized, someone has lent me The Divide (which I haven’t watched yet) – should I give that one a whirl? 🙂

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    • Cheers Greg, yeah not a film for everyone.

      I really liked The Divide. Here are my thoughts if your interested:

      http://wp.me/p2rx51-62

      Bottom line is, The Divide is not a nice happy film, but is a really good look at an apocalyptic situation gone wrong, so to speak, with some evil characters who really went for it. Not anywhere near as harsh or violent as Frontiers, and if you have it already, you could do a lot worse! If you hate it, I apologise in advance and will try get you those 90 minutes or so back 🙂

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  7. Pretty sure this is somewhere in one of my queues! Yay! Maybe one day soon I’ll have time to watch. 😉

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  8. Nice review, Tyson. This is one seems very interesting. Added it to my list 🙂

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  9. I don’t know if I can say “I had so much fun” for this one. It’ll make me look like a psycho? But I did. It’s not very original and I feel it slots in the “torture porn” category quite nicely but it did kick all kinds of ass.

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    • Ugh, I hate the term ‘torture porn’. Most people use it in a derogatory way about films they have no intention of seeing. Luckily I know youre not like that 🙂

      Glad you liked it, and yeah I felt the same. Definitely kicked all kinds of ass, and was very refreshing I felt. Cheers Catalin 🙂

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  10. TYSON! I’m so glad you reviewed this movie. If French Extreme Horror was a person, I would marry it (hypothetically speaking). This is one of my favorite French gore films, and I was very happy with everything you had to say about it

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    • Thank you!! Glad you’re a fan, I kind of thought you would be since we seem to agree on horror stuff so far. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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  11. Excellent flick!

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  1. Martyrs (2008) | Head In A Vice
  2. Inside (2007) | Head In A Vice
  3. The Divide (2011) | Head In A Vice
  4. Train (2008) | Head In A Vice
  5. Kill Theory (2009) | Head In A Vice

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