22 July 2008 | luke-346
Gloriously gory... but nothing new!
Frontier(s) is a French horror film written and directed by Xavier Gens, also responsible for the computer game inspired film, Hit-man. The film begins in Paris with a group of criminals involved in a heist. As they are carrying out their robbery something goes wrong and it descends into chaos leading to the group splitting up and arranging to meet in a hostel out in the sticks. Unbeknown to the criminals the hostel owners are neo-Nazi degenerates with a hidden agenda, part of this agenda being the mutilation, torture and murder of their new guests.
Ultimately I did not warm to this film as I found it to have too many problems. Coincidently the first of which occurs in the very first few scenes of the film. These opening shots utilize frantic camera-work interlaced with rapid editing that both confuses and disorientates the viewer. On a personal note I find this method of film-making to be unnecessary especially when executed so poorly. This technique is superfluous, MTV-inspired and amateurish and does nothing but cheapen the film. The over arching feeling of the opening few scenes is that of the director trying his best to hurry the viewer or rather speed up the narrative in order to get us the "meaty" part of the film. In general the direction of the film was mediocre with dingy and overly stylized scenes, the final reels being a fine example of this.
Once the "meaty" part of the film arrives we are treated to some gruesome acts of violence and horrific forms of mutilation, which to give it its due are a lot more impressive than the film Hostel. When viewing Frontiers horror fans will notice the vast array of influences/rip-offs from the previously mentioned Hostel to The Hills Have Eyes, The Descent, Wrong Turn, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of a 1000 Corpses, Blair Witch
etc etc! In fact it draws so heavily from other films a case for plagiarism could probably be made, some critics citing it as the 'French Chainsaw Massacre'. Although it seems obvious to draw comparisons with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Frontiers lacks the suspense of that film and the ingenuity of direction that was so wonderfully conveyed by Tobe Hooper. On the surface Frontiers appears to have been made by people that have seen a lot of horror films but have failed to grasp the concept of what makes them successful, something a lot of horror aficionados can do and probably would do if they were given the same resources. Frontiers fails to further the genre or create anything new, instead it offers the same old "been here, seen it".
Essentially the film lacks identity and this is due to it feeling too much like a Hollywood film. Often fans of the genre turn to other countries for something new or fresh or for something that isn't available in their own culture, but with Frontiers this isn't offered. Being so Hollywood in its construction with its stylized death scenes and MTV School of directing it alludes to the possibility of a director that is using this film as a cleverly engineered stepping stone in his career, and given his next feature it seems to have paid off. Basically Frontiers is a film that shouldn't have left the drawing board The redeeming features for Frontiers are its violence and gore content as it does contain some memorable death scenes - but even here I still feel it's trying too hard to compete with the Saw franchise. There has been a market for this kind of violence with some referring to it as "Torture Porn" but perhaps mediocre films like Frontiers indicate that it's nearing an end. This notion is further supported by the fact the film lacks any originality or intellect the fact it tenuously draws on recent French history and has a Sarkozy lookalike on TV doesn't qualify as intellect.
Finally, the manner in which the film has been made hints at a director that is clearly full of his own ego and if this were the case it would help to explain the shaky camera-work in the opening scenes as maybe whilst filming he's masturbating furiously at his deluded talent. I would recommend avoiding Frontiers if you like your horrors to be engaging but that maybe you'd enjoy it if you're only after high levels of violence and gore - just fast forward the first few scenes.