Saturday, October 17, 2015

31 Days Horror- Day17: Frontier(s) (2007)

(dir. Xavier Gens)
* First time viewing

In midst of a political upheaval, a group of Paris thieves are held hostage and tortured by Neo-Nazis looking to create the master race.

Frontier(s) is fucking gnarly. That’s really the only way I can put it. It actually may be the goriest movie I’ve seen save for Martyrs. And I’m not talking clearly over-the-top Tarantino-style fun, I mean full-on “I’ve got to look away for a moment” blood and pain. Gens delivers calculated and unrestrained cruelty. While I straight up love practical gore effects, I’m not a big fan of the torture-porn subgenre of horror, which leaves me feeling a little mixed about Gens’ film. The political ‘out of the fire and into the frying pan’ backdrop of the film elevates the material beyond standard maiming and mutilation fare, and but watching a group of backwoods neo-nazis repeatedly torture their victims in new ways isn’t all that interesting after the first hour or so. There’s certainly meaning to the madness, but the film never quite manages to balance the two, preferring dismemberment over right-wing extremism—though perhaps the film is suggesting that the two are more linked than we may originally think.

What is consistently interesting, and ultimately my reason for giving the film at least one thumb up, is Karnia Testa’s performance as thief and expectant-mother Yasmine and that character’s arc in the film. Once the tables are turned and she goes from a place of victimization to vengeance, Frontier(s) becomes a lot more compelling and involving. For the climax alone, I’d watch the entirety of the film again. Despite some of my qualms with the film, I appreciate that Frontier(s) is a solid example of the diversity within the horror genre, it simply may not be for everyone.

Scare Factor: 5/5 If we’re talking stomach-churning scares in terms of gore, then Frontier(s) gets full marks. Seriously, the Saw franchise has got nothing on this, so if blood, guts and severed Achilles tendons are your thing, then Frontier(s) is a must see.

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