or, FRONTIER(S). 2007
Director: Xavier Gens

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The French entry into the torture-porn genre is the miserable ultra-slasher Frontiere(s) (2007). Fans of the Saw & Hostel franchises will like this one too I suppose. For me, even as a fan of psychopath films, this was a grave disappointment.

Frontrier(s)We're thrown immediately into a riot-torn Paris without explanation. There's been an election which seems (maybe; who can tell) to have brought fascists to power. Rioting has broken out throughout the city. We're told this is "a world of chaos & hate," although it might just as well be a clash of soccer fans.

The French audience could place the setting at once, but on the international market, these opening scenes can be confusing & might even imply a near-future wherein Paris at least, if not the entirety of France, is governed by fascists. It actually seems to be set in 2005, when a right-wing politician was elected to power & race riots erupted in Muslim neighborhoods, akin to the American race riots of the Los Angeles Watts district in 1965.

But after the initial sequences, none of the introductory information is apropos of anything that occurs thereafter.

Yasmine (Karina Testa) has watched her brother Sami (Adel Bencherif) die neglected in the hospital Emergency Room. She & her three skinhead pals (Aurelien Wiik, David Saracino & Chems Dahmani) flee from the hospital before police arrive to kill them, as this is a world where children of Muslim immigrants are shot on sight.

They flee the city riots, driving separately toward the "frontiere" two to a car, looking for a place where they can survive.

They never quite make it to the frontier, whatever that would be, but they make it to a crossroads with the frontier beyond that apparently. It's such a nonsense piece of writing & directing the title's insignificance is the least of the film's problems. There are moments, & only moments, when visual art & needlessly good acting bubbles out of this mess, but saddled started with a poor script, the film never quite escapes bad writing.

No one else seems to have thought of escaping riot-torn Paris, for the roads are empty. The first two guys, Tom & Farid, stop at a crossroads hostel run by a scary family.

There are plenty of clues the hostel is dangerous but since the depravities of the place give the impression of including loose sex with crazy broads, the guys from Paris figure what the hell, let's get laid.

Frontrier(s)Extreme violence results with a few fingers lost then worse doom as one of the guys gets strung up as meat, his blood slowly dripping out. His pal reaches the car but crashes not far down the road.

Then a hole is discovered & though there's no earlthly reason to crawl into it, hey, it's a stupid film. Holes are to crawl into. The tunnels were abandoned by miners but inhabited by deformed The Children of inbred cannibal nazis.

The next pair, Alex & Yasmine, arrive at the hostel, not knowing what happened to their chums. For the novelty of a different setting, they're talked into heading down the road apiece to the pig farm, where we'll get more yawn-worthy torture.

Essentially it's a standard evil hillbillies plot & did not need the opening set-up about a fascist government coming to power & riots in the city. As a slasher it's okay for its moments of gore if that's enough for you; the big meat cutting saw routine is the best of all that nonsense.

Unexpectedly & belatedly there is a story, an amazingly dumb one, about an old-time Nazi (Jean-Pierre Jorris) whose extremely long life after WWII is never explained but maybe due to eating people. He's been fathering deformed kids for a master race. He's decided to get some new genetic material & wants to add Yasmine to the family, despite having noticed she's kind of dark-skinned.

To win her over, what would be more convincing than to chain her & her friend in a pig stye knee deep in shit. More gore scenes ensue; taking a bolt-cutter to the achilles tendon was nicely done. The cannibal butcher lurches about for spice, for on one level we're watching the unwitty version of the vastly better film Motel Hell.

It additionally borrows unimaginatively from the franchises for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hostel, Saw, & The Hills Have Eyes, & is probably no worse than the worst sequels to any of these. Which for me is just not good enough.

Yasmine is befriended by the young broodmare mother (Amelie Daure) of the underutilized mutant children living in the tunnels. This girl has not been as willing to participate in the depravities, though to survive she certainly does her best.

The first hour of this turd of a film was pretty boring, but it momentarily gets some oddball life to it as the mother of mutants tries to be a good friend to her fellow captive. Her pathetic emotionalism in hoping to bond with Yasmine lends a thrilling perversity to the goings-on, taking the tale transiently in a direction other than physical torture gags.

At the demented wedding to make Yasmine part of the fruitcake family, it's obvious she is building to a moment of revenge for herself & her dead buddies. But she does very little beyond run away, hide where the mutant children crawl, get tortured by her new "husband," then at tediously long last getting her revenge after all. What a load.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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