Frontier(s) (La frontera del miedo) (2007)

What are your boundaries?
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Frontier(s) (La frontera del miedo) - What are your boundaries?

A group of young bank robbers flee the police and the riot filled streets of the Paris slums to hide out in an isolated hostel before making their escape to Holland. Let's just say they aren't in for a pleasant stay.

Over the past few years, France has become the new home of extreme horror; this offering from Xavier Gens only helps to cement this. Though not as striking in its extremeness as the wonderful "Inside"; it nonetheless delivers many brutal, horrific scenes with lots and lots of the splattery red stuff.

The film draws from many of the classic horrors, probably most notably the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with its crazy ass family, cannibalism, and freezer full of corpses. But here the classic hillbillies are replaced with a warped family of neo Nazis. The movie has aspects of other movies too, such as The Hills Have Eyes, Deliverance, Hostel etc, it's all in there. This could cause a little bit of a "seen it all before" feeling, but the excellent direction, social commentary and bloody violence help to erase that, and combine to give you the sense of a very special horror movie.

Horror has long been a vehicle for social commentary, with slashers cautionary tales of teenage sex to the race and consumerism of Romero's "Dead" movies, a good slice of social observation can raise a horror movie above its peers. With the opening scenes of riots following a right wing political victory, and with the Nazi family, it's clear that Gens is passing commentary on the political direction of his country, but he wraps this in a truly brutal and horrific horror movie taking it above the sum of its parts. This makes the movie feel like the goretastic horror movie it is and not simply a political statement with horror thrown in.

The film wouldn't work so well were it not for the tremendously nasty effects, one scene especially sticks in mind that results in possibly the most blood drenched person I have seen in a movie. The screen explodes throughout with vicious beatings, severed body parts, exploding heads and much, much more and once it gets started, it rarely lets up. Not content with simply being gory, the film feels grimy too, the settings (above and below ground) feel genuinely nasty and coated in filth; an element missing from a lot of Hollywood movies of this type.

The excellent cast also help lift this movie with wonderfully creepy and demented performances from all in the family, especially Eva, the young daughter of the family played by Maud Forget, who fills her role with equal parts of instilled insanity and natural kindness. The other two sisters, played by Amelie Daure and Estelle Lefebure, greet the first two boys who arrive, they play their parts with a knowing underlying creepiness, giving the impression they are performing a luring routine they have performed many times before. The three brothers each have their share of great horror moments, and the father of the family is superb as the Nazi head of the household.

The young robbers do somewhat pale when compared to the family members, but they are all well played, especially Yasmin (played by Karina Testa) the girl of the group (who is of course pregnant, a common element to French horror). The family attempt to bestow upon her the dubious honour of being a "breeder", obviously she doesn't particularly relish the idea of this, however the boys get the more brutal end of the stick as they are earmarked as lunch.

If you're looking for a slasher/crazy family type movie that still feels fresh despite being well visited territory you can't go far wrong here. It's maybe a little too long, and the pacing slips a bit here and there, but this is an extreme horror movie that, because of its somewhat cosy classic slasher family horror plot, is probably more accessible to everyday horror fans than some other extreme examples and a great starting point for the French gore genre.
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