Xavier Gens – Frontière(s) AKA Frontiers (2007)


allmovie wrote:
The banlieues of Paris are burning, and as a young girl from the slums attempts to elude police by hiding out at a sprawling inn near the Luxembourg border she becomes locked in a vicious battle for survival against a group of Neo-Nazi fanatics intent on using her to start a new Aryan brotherhood.


New York Times wrote:
by Manohla Dargis

There’s enough blood in the unrated French horror film Frontier(s) to satiate even the most ravenous gore hounds. The real surprise here is that this creepy, contemporary gross-out also has some ideas, visual and otherwise, wedged among its sanguineous drips, swaying meat hooks and whirring table saw.

Much like other recent French-language horror films (High Tension, Calvaire, Inside), this one owes a debt to the modern American slasher flick, the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, among many others, though Frontier(s) adds an amusingly glib and timely political twist to its wholesale carnage.

It doesn’t take long for the film’s familiar genre bones to jut into sight. First, though, a handful of characters have to escape the violent tumult of Paris, which has been torn apart by a right-wing election triumph.

And because every road out of the city leads right to the countryside, these young, attractive urban refugees are soon motoring along desolate byways that lead straight to the Bates Motel, or rather its French equivalent, which in this case is ominously called a hostel. Happily, this dive isn’t run by Eli Roth, but by Xavier Gens, whose first American release was the Euro-trashy English-language thriller Hitman (2007), a big-screen adaptation of a video game, complete with a relentless contract killer and scores of dead.

Mr. Gens doesn’t have to draw from a primary source in Frontier(s), as he did in Hitman, which leaves him free to rummage through the horror movie storehouse. The new film recycles various clichés — an exploding head; bodies on meat hooks; deathly pale, scuttling critters; and one whacked-out family — but with flair and tight timing.

After its initial frenzy, the movie quiets to an anxious hum during the ride out of Paris, only to rev up again after two of the four refugees, Tom (David Saracino) and Farid (Chems Dahmani), arrive at the hostel, where they are greeted by a family — a sullen Ilsa the She Wolf type, Gilberte (Estelle Lefébure); a jittery mouse, Klaudia (Amélie Daure); and the thuggish Goetz (Samuel Le Bihan), whose agitation portends a terribly uncomfortable stay.

What ensues involves a lot of to and fro through the dreadful dark and an alarmingly succulent roast, though nothing provokes chills quite like the racism spewed by the family’s dear old, demented dad (an unnerving Jean-Pierre Jorris), whose heavy, patriarchal hand comes sheathed in a black glove.

Along with a broken doll named Eva (Maud Forget, spookily effective), Father and his brood do their creative worst to the visitors, who are soon joined by Yasmine (Karina Testa) and Alex (Aurélien Wiik) in a smack-down between France’s Arab youth and its white fascists. Although at times Mr. Gens veers dangerously close to the unpardonable, with images that evoke the Holocaust too strongly, “Frontier(s)” finally works because its shivers are as plausible as they are outrageous.


Subtitles:English (.srt)