Frontière(s) (2007)

If you believe the hype, Frontière(s) is one of the most brutal, gory, and savage films you'll see all year. If you believe the hype, this is the movie that pushes torture porn to its logical conclusion, breaking all previous boundaries and, quite possibly, your mind along with it. If you believe the hype, you'll need a cushion to hide behind when you watch this movie - and then you'll need to take that cushion with you to see a psychiatrist.

But you shouldn't believe the hype. You should believe me when I say that Frontière(s) is nothing more than a waste of everyone's time.

The movie opens with roughly cut footage of French riots, establishing a backdrop of political unrest and fascism. You might as well go grab a cup of tea while this is on, though, because it has no bearing on the rest of the movie, which soon cuts to the actual story: a group of criminals/political rebels on the run head out to the middle of nowhere and hole up in a shabby little motel, where they intend to regroup and figure out where to go next. The general consensus is that they should go to Amsterdam, but since this is a horror movie, we already know they're not going to get there. The first clue that something's amiss at the motel (or is it - dun dun dun! - a hostel?) is that as soon as the first two rebels check in, the girls at the counter start hitting on them, pushing them into a half-hearted orgy. When mystery meat and a half-dead old woman show up at the dinner table, it's obvious, even to the braindead protagonists, that something is very, very wrong here.

And then it's just a case of going through the motions. You know the score: a group of young people roll up to a deserted location only to discover that the locals are inbred freaks intent on butchering them, one by one, till at last only one girl is left to avenge everyone else by becoming improbably invincible. Yawn.

The list of movies that Frontière(s) rips off is almost endless; it'd be impossible to count every movie that's already made better use of all the tropes rammed in here, but just off the top of my head: Hostel, Saw, Saw III, The Descent, Hannibal, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, Wolf Creek, Switchblade Romance, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, The Hills Have Eyes remake... I could go on, but that's enough to be going on with for now. Basically, if you've seen any of those movies, you've seen this; all Frontière(s) adds to the mix is about two minutes in which the bad guys pretend to have some kind of Neo-Nazi sympathies before reverting back to their "evil hillbilly" archetypes. Everything from the sped-up film to the stylised rain storm to the freezer full of bodies to the awkward dinner table scene to the various formulaic gore scenes - all of it has been done before, and much more effectively. When the final girl manages to run out to a road and flag down a car, you'll have to be careful that your eyes don't roll out of your head when it turns out her "rescuer" is yet another member of the lunatic family, and that he's about to drive her right back to where she started...

It's exhausting to think that someone bothered to make this movie. Xavier Gens might as well have just chopped up the films he's liberally plagiarising and edited them together for all the originality he brings to the endeavour. There's literally nothing new here; no creativity whatsoever. The marketing is really pushing the idea that the torture is really extreme and explicit in this movie, but honestly? It isn't. It really, really isn't; there's nothing here that you couldn't see in any of the Saw or Hostel movies. Where this differs from a film like, say, Hostel, or even the dreadful Wolf Creek, is that those movies understood that a horror movie needs to establish its characters before it starts killing them off. Hostel spent the first 45 minutes or so of its runtime just hanging out with the characters, letting its audience get to know them, before anything bad happened. Frontière(s) does away with all those niceties and assumes its viewers just want to get down to the nitty gritty - but then it doesn't even have anything new or innovative to offer in terms of gore. We've seen people suspended on meathooks before; we've seen people getting their Achilles tendons cut before; and we've seen people's heads exploding before.

Frontière(s) is essentially a greatest hits compilation of the crap horror films of the last three or four years. If you missed every single one of them, you might be shocked by this. If you caught even half of any of them in a drunken stupor, you'll find yourself plagued by déjà vu throughout this. And if, like me, you sat through most of that previous dross, eternally optimistic that the genre might pull its finger out and produce a halfway worthwhile movie, you'll just want to kick Gens in the shins for unleashing this on the world.

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