Some horror enthusiasts like to make us aware that the emergence of a new wave of foreign horror film is sweeping over us and pushing 'unoriginal' and 'tired' concepts to the back of the line. But foreign horror isn't emerging, it's here, it's now and let's face it, it's been around a fair time now. Whether it's ghostly Korean or Japanese horror, clever Spanish terror or even gore-filled French cinema coming to the fore-front these days the truth is that the general public are so horror-savvy these days that even they can't be fooled, when being spoon-fed with big budget rehashes or indeed PG rated tosh, forever.
And so the 'new wave' continues with French filmmaker Xavier Gens' directorial debut 'Frontier(s)'.
'Frontier(s)' is set against a backdrop of political unease in Paris, where a small Parisian gang pull off a quick-grab robbery which goes wrong within the riot-filled suburbs when Sami is shot and dragged off to hospital by his pregnant sister Yasmine and her ex-partner Alex. Sami dies in hospital and the other two escape the city to meet up with their other two partners in crime Tom and Farid, who have just arrived at an out-of-the-way motel. The motel just happens to be owned and inhabited by an odd family of neo-Nazis who have their sights on finding and nurturing a new pure blood.
I've read a lot of things about this movie. More often than not it has been referred to as a hybrid of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'Hostel'. And that isn't actually too far from the truth. There is a strange array of apparent nods and ideas lifted from both these movies amongst other genre movies of recent years. But I beg you not to be too put off by those comments. Because even though there is obvious similarities it still stands head and shoulders above many horror's that I've seen in recent memory.
It's gore-laden and filled with political reference. Some scenes are so particularly driven by classic scenes from other movies you'd almost think you have to bail and reach for the remote and turn it off in utter disgust. But 'Frontier(s)' does something that hardly any horror flicks get away with these days and that is that it has the ability to shock and scare and grip you as a viewer in spite of such a barrage of hidden elements of homage.
The underlying messages from the film are reflective of France's current climate and the political subtext is rife throughout no matter how much you truly think about it. This coupled with Nazi fascist fantasism and potential new world order wet dreams from the typical horror family of murderous freaks just accentuates and heightens the racial and political significance of the picture as a whole.
'Frontier(s)', released by After Dark Films, was going to be originally shown under the '8 Films To Die For' (a.k.a. 'Horrorfest') banner shown in various US theatres across the country last year. However, following MPAA's NC-17 rating it was released in theatres in May of this year (2008) and released subsequently on DVD shortly after. The DVD is released here in the UK on Monday 7th July.
Director Gens has led us through this ultimately told survival tale with great enthusiasm for all that is sickening and vile. It's doesn't quite tip to the ridiculous and does manage to remain credible. The editing is switched on and the background music goes very far in embedding sequences into your head. All this coupled with vibrant colours and well executed filmmaking really sets this apart from its peers. I feel like I did, very much so, after watching Alexandre Aja's 'Haute Tension' ('Switchblade Romance') a few years ago.