Frontier(s) is the latest in a long line of gore-fests en français. It's an After Dark film, deemed "too scary for the festival!" and thus only showable in quiet limited release for those brave few who know what they're getting into. Yeah. Whatever. Personally, I found the other grand guignol After Dark film from the Horrorfest "8 Films to Die For" 2007 slate, Inside, far superior to this tired Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Hostel meets The Hills Have Eyes replicant.
We first meet a pair of horny, hungry shelter-seekers who greedily partake of a secluded hostel's fine food and frisky femmes, and… before long, they're French toast. Their murders are gory and viscous, yet completely suspenseless and emotionless. Viewers might sympathize more with the film's central feisty heroine, 3-months pregnant Yasmine (Karina Testa), who's kidnapped and held prisoner by the neo-Nazi cannibal prostitutes who run the hostel. (Actually, I'm making it sound more fun than it really is; the bad guy is a guy… well-acted, but one-dimensional, the heil-horror patriarch is yet another male cliché. We've already seen shades of this guy in Murder-Set Pieces and The Chef, ad nauseam.)
The direction (by Hitman's Xavier Gens) is brisk, but he simply doesn't have an entertaining, or even remotely original standpoint from which to tell this sick story. The music (dour) and visuals (green) are well above-average, and as I already mentioned, the acting is fantastic. Such that it's almost worth watching for the talent alone. Furthermore, the death scenes are appropriately gruesome (there's an Achilles' heel chop, young'uns hanging from meathooks, skulls split via ax, and so on).
Typically and generally speaking, I think the French make great horror films — especially most recently with Á L'Intérieur (Inside), Haute Tension (High Tension), and Sheitan (Satan). They tend to combine the best of both style and substance worlds. But some of them — ala Ils (Them) — inspire only ennui: And Frontier(s), per moi, is definitely one of those.
= = =Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson