Frontier(s) (DVD)

Frontier(s) DVD reviewReviewed by Johnny Butane

Starring Karina Testa, Aurelien Wilk, Patrick Ligardes, David Saracino, Samuel le Bihan

Directed by “>Xavier Gens (interview)

Released by Lionsgate Home Entertainment

It’s interesting how you can make the same basic movie that 100 other directors have, but just take things a little more seriously and you’ve got a film that feels almost fresh and new. Frontier(s) is a great example of this, as director Gans utilized a very standard kids-in-a-farmhouse-chased-by-insane-family plot line, but went at it with actual logic and intelligence to craft what is, in the end, a damn fun movie.

The film starts off with a very long credit sequence set to trancy music and footage of various riots, which leads into the situation our main characters are escaping from; in the wake of the election of an extreme right government body, Parisians loose it and begin destroying their city. The four leads; pregnant Yasmine, Alex, Tom and Farid, manage to get out of the city, Tom and Farid in the lead. The two end up at a bed and breakfast that is apparently being looked over by two hot women, whom they’re advances actually work on and they end up banging. Usually such strange things don’t go all the way in a horror movie, the girls’ nefarious plots come to light right before or something, but not here.

Frontier(s) DVD reviewFollowing the sex there’s a very awkward dinner with the rest of the family who runs the house, one which ends with Tom pissing off the girl’s older brother Goetz (Le Bihan), not a man who should be messed with. Now they’re on the run for their lives, managing to actually get in a car and drive away, only to be run off the road into a pit that leads to some underground tunnels. They survive the fall, but not the tunnels, let’s just put it that way.

Soon after, Alex and Yasmine show up looking for their friends, only to be told they went to a different B&B a few miles away. They’re driven there by one of the sisters, where they get to meet Father, a Nazi whose looking to make his family’s bloodline pure again. He’s not a nice person at all, as is the case with most Nazis who can’t leave the past behind, and soon the young couple find out just how this family manages to eat so well out in the middle of the French countryside. It ain’t because they grow their own vegetables.

What works so well in Frontier(s) is that it never talks down to its audience; you’re treated like an adult, one who doesn’t have to have everything explained in long expositions scenes to keep up with what’s going on. The family dynamic is believable; especially in the second half when the real sibling rivalry rears its ugly head. Both brothers want to be the head of the family, but only one can get it.

Frontier(s) DVD reviewThere are some missteps, of course, scenes that seem stolen directly from other movies for example (The Descent definitely pops into mind), and once most of the characters are gone the pacing takes a pretty steep downturn before picking back up again. Really, though, it’s almost the first chance since the beginning that you get a chance to catch your breath so I’ll bet less ADD viewers will appreciate it.

The gore is plentiful and disturbing, never glorified save for a few choice kills. At its heart Frontier(s)is a very brutal movie, so I can see why After Dark couldn’t get it out with an R rating in time for Horrorfest, and respect their decision to hold on to it and release it as a stand-alone film. It certainly deserves it.

What’s odd to me is the DVD; there’s nothing whatsoever on it. The official Frontier(s) site has an ass load of behind the scenes clips and images, why couldn’t they just have thrown a few on the disc? This is one of those rare horror films where I actually want to hear more about it when it’s over, damnit.

If it’s playing near you, be sure to check out during its weekend-long theatrical run starting on May 9th. Or, just wait for the following Tuesday and get it on DVD, but really seeing a movie like this on the big screen would make for a very fun experience, I think. At least you won’t have to wait too long if you miss it, though!

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  • Johnny Butane

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    • stevetheheb

      Just finished watching it, not too bad.

      My biggest gripe is the lead actress performance in the second half.

    • thedudeabides

      They wanted to take it to the limit… one more time.

    • Evil Alien

      V-I-S-C-E-R-A-L!!! I have a warm spot for any movie where fascists get their due treatment. While I feel the narrative is a bit loose; the action, violence, and gore are T-I-G-H-T. The core of Frontiere(s) is an anti-fascist parable for a world where violent, reactionary politics seem to pass, even among the mainstream, as a positive solution to complex global problems. Progressives should love this film, but the more conservative horror hound will likely only see its flaws. C’est la vie, et nous ne nous reposerons pas jusqu’à ce que le dernier nazi meurt.

    • Emy

      Woman In Black, you remember correctly.

      Frontière means “border” or “limit” or “edge” even. I believe the title is meant to be about the border they want to cross towards freedom but also the limits of what one can live through or take.

      I also do not think that the title is pretentious. I think it is well chosen. The French meaning goes well with the story I think.

    • The Woman In Black

      The title’s pretentious? If I remember my high school French, frontiere means border, and the characters were trying to get out of the country, aka reach the border. All in all, the title’s the least of my problems with the film, the derivative third act being #1 on my list.

    • Sirand

      Also, what’s up with After Dark marketing this thing like it’s some supernatural Hellraiser-ish flick? That would’ve been more interesting than how the actual film turned out.

      And what’s up with the pretentious title?

    • Emy

      I’m with you Johnny.

      Me likes Frontière(s) me likes it beaucoup.

    • Johnny Butane

      I figured you’d say that, but I can’t help it; I likes what I likes, and I liked this one.

    • Uncle Creepy

      I’m with Sirand. Sort of. I think the first hour was great after that it was a cut and paste job.

    • MetalBeard

      Apparently the Best Buy near me doesn’t pay attention to street dates as I found this on the shelf and bought it last weekend.

    • Sirand

      You’re way too forgiving, Johhny. This is just “The French Chainsaw Massacre.” Nothing the least bit original. Just more of the same, only flashier.

      No surprise After Dark is putting this one out.