My favourite movie I have seen thus far this year is Xavier Gen’s 2011 film, The Divide. It is raw, gritty and painful to watch. You leave the film uncomfortable and uneasy about the material depicted. Much like the ending of Stephen King’s the Mist, you are not quite sure about what just happened. After this most recent uneasiness I experienced after viewing The Divide, I felt the need to re-watch Mr. Gen’s other epic tale, Frontier(s). If you were expecting me to say Hitman, I fear you are misguided, because even Timothy Olyphant could not save that train wreck of a film. No, unfortunately Mr. Gen’s attempt at a “Hollywood” film blockbuster was muddled and more of a flop that belongs on the raspberry list. Rather than dwell about the non-successful films my favourite new French filmmaker has made, let us conclude that Hitman was an outlier in his growing resume of great films to his name.
The notoriety of Frontier(s) was built up in 2007 when the film was deemed too violent for an R rating and was removed from the After Dark Horror Fest. This publicity is the best kind a horror film creator can ask for, as a buzz that is generated surrounding the film was depicted as too graphic and disturbing to even be viewed. Of course this does nothing but excite avid horror movie fans to do whatever they can to get a copy of the film. However, this technique is only successful when the hype is worthy of the film produced. Unfortunately the resulting high expectations were almost an impossibility.
In the not too distant future where political turmoil in France dominates and groups of thugs and gangs run the streets. When one group of thieves flees Paris to lay low in a quaint little inn outside of the big city, hoping to have some fun and wet their “whistles” for a few days before re-grouping, the group finds that they are in bigger trouble than they could have ever imagined. While I do not think that Frontier(s) is the strongest film in this new surge of French exploitative films to make its way onto the small screen, I will argue that the film is wonderfully strange and eerie tale that draws you into the strange world of a group of French neo-nazi cannibalistic hillbillies.
The story is simple and easy to follow, even for those who detest the idea of reading subtitles. There is not a lot more going on in the film other than watching crazy and sadistic Neo-Nazi Frenchmen attempt to re-populate the Earth in their own image. The film is no more graphic than Haute Tension or Inside, but what it successfully is, is an enjoyable and well depicted torture porn film. This label may seem strange for some because the film does not dwell on torture and gore; and it is not sensationalized in a traditional way that torture porn typically is. But with the successful usage of tension building in conjunction with intermittent graphic content, the film is effective at maintaining excitement and mystery. It is weird, graphic and intriguing. Plus it has pigs.