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Horror*: Frontier(s)

frontiers-mainThe opening line of this (subtitled) French horror film perfectly exhibits everything that is wrong with the appallingly half-assed, and undeservingly grandiose script. The character Yasmine (Karina Testa) introduces herself while the viewer attempts to interpret the images from an ultra-sound machine. “My name is Yasmine, I’m three months pregnant” she says. “One day, someone said, ‘Men are born free with equal rights’. The world in which I live is the opposite.” Okay, that’s interesting go on… “Who would want to be born to grow up in the chaos and the hate? I’ve decided to spare him the worst”.

With an opening statement like that, which is followed by the classic film-making technique of using a news footage montage to introduce the viewer to the climate in which the film is set — in this case, France in the midst of riots and political turmoil — you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were about to embark on a thought provoking journey… well, that’ll teach you to think, or read the quotes on the DVD case, now won’t it!

To be fair, this is a very well made film… if you ignore the fact that it’s a completely crap movie. Cinematically the film is beautiful, it’s one of those movies that you can almost feel the texture of it as you watch. Even when what is on screen is repulsive, it’s presented with skill and an artfulness that competes with the film’s content. My only real complaint regarding the film’s visual construction is that there are times where even I, who usually has a high tolerance for such things, finds the whole ‘shaky-cam’ style to have been pushed a little too far.

The performances in this film are also worth note. At the beginning, when the characters are given something to work with, there’s some pretty good development. Unfortunately most of that establishment is lost once the movie jumps off its own tracks, runs off the rails, through an adjacent paddock and plummets into an abandoned mine. Yasmine, her brother Sami (Adel Bencherif), her former boyfriend Alex (Aurélien Wiik), and a couple other mouthy, cock sure, gangster wanna-bes, Tom (David Saracino) and Farid (Chems Dahmani) take advantage of the state of chaos in Paris and stage a bank robbery. All doesn’t go well though and Sami is shot. Tension between the gang rise as they must decide their next move. Sami requires medical attention if he’s going to survive, but they risk being caught if they take him to a hospital.

The film unfortunately reaches its best at this early stage. The characters are at the strongest (and least likable) during this turmoil. Alex assumes leadership of the gang and sends Tom and Farid to the Dutch boarder with the cash, while he and Yasmine take Sami to the hospital, with plans to meet Tom and Farid as soon as they can get away from Paris.

From this point the film devolves into what’s now-days termed ‘torture p0rn’, and if you like that sort of thing, then you’ll probably love this film. However I can’t imagine that even the most avid fan of depraved acts of dismemberment wont take a moment to ask what the point of the first fifteen minutes of this film was. As much as I detest this sort of depravity masquerading as horror, the biggest disappointment is that the film simply doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. This could have been a masterpiece had it not been for the abysmally disjointed plot.

Just to be clear, I’m not bothered by things gory, nor do I instantly dislike movies that make me feel uncomfortable. But as someone who considers them self a fan of horror movies I’m disappointed that there are people who cannot seem to make the distinction between horror and this kind of film. If you’re interested in true modern horror then get yourself a copy of [REC]. However if you’re the kind who does get off on the genre which spawned the likes of HOSTEL and the SAW movies, then this movie is probably going to take pride of place in your collection when it becomes available (Frontier(s) is currently available for rent). [source]

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    “Frorror”. FTW.

  • I feel another ‘urban dictionary’ rush coming on!