director Xavier Gens
Frontier(s), a French horror/thriller from the school of New Extremism is another one that makes lists of most shocking or disgusting. My recent little dip into the genre/style/aesthetic has included Martyrs (2008) and Them (2006), but has in the past also included High Tension (2004), Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day (2001) and the films of Gaspar Noé.
Conclusions? I’m not there yet. But I’d put Noé’s films on a different level from the others.
Frontier(s) starts out in what seems like a slightly futuristic Paris, beset by extremist politics and mass riots, in which a group of young people of varied immigrant background pull off a robbery and hightail it to the countryside to re-group. At first, this seems like the main direction of the film, a heist story maybe. That is until the hostel that they arrive at turns out to be inhabited by a white supremacist “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” kind of clan.
The casting is quite good, I would say. The characters that people the film seem well-selected for their menace. And the convoluted, not sure where all this ends aspect of the plot, leaves you never really certain when the film has hit its lowest of lows or has let its final shoe drop.
But in execution, some of the film is better-shot than others. Some of the sequences are heavy with hand-held, quick-cut visual nonsense. Other part of the film settle down into more coherent visuals.
Overall, I’d rate this film higher on ideas than execution, but not necessarily super high on any one thing. It has a political critique, of course, very much about the right-wing extremists and where anybody of any outside community has no place in this crazy version of France. But the frontiers it refers to don’t come through as strongly as it could have.
It is gory.