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Frontier(s) (2007)

'Frontier(s)' is a 2007 French-Swiss independent horror movie written and directed by Xavier Gens. Taking place in the rolling hills of the French countryside, as a gang of young criminal flee Paris from the violent aftermath of a political riot in the hopes of freedom. With the young group taking refuge in a small motel along the way, only to find that the family run motel isn't all it appears to be at first.

This is a without question a movie that is not for the fainthearted, showing visually without hesitation the audience the graphic cruelty these people endure at the hands of their captures. Having a brutal and seemingly hopeless scenario that befalls these characters with a relentless onslaught of depravity and despair, its fair to say that this is a bleak story from start to finish, with very little time in between for to come up for air. And although this could find itself categorised as being solely for the gore hounds amongst us, I feel like there is enough validity in its story to warrant the gratuitous violence being justified to the purpose of the plot.

Firstly, I have to give credit to director Xavier Gens, because even in the midst of the horror that is shown on screen I couldn't help but appreciate the shear talent he displayed as a director. Given that this his first feature length directorial debut, I was in constant admiration of his flawless camera placement when it came to shooting a scene. His pairing with seasoned cinematographer Laurent Barès makes for a very aesthetically pleasing movie to say the least.

Being a French movie I was very unfamiliar with any of the featured cast. In some ways, given the horrifying nature of the subject matter I think this works in this films favour. I always tend to find that I can get more invested in an ensemble cast that I have no point of reference to prior to the start of the movie. And although I found everyone to give excellent performances overall, the two biggest stand outs for me were Karina Testa as protagonist and final girl, Yasmine and David Saracino as Tom. Both of these actors bring a wide range of depth and emotion to their characters and I think this movie I think would suffer heavily in their absence.

The blood and gore featured in this movie in certain scenes is wild enough to rival that of the 'Evil Dead' franchise. And focusing all of its efforts on showcasing these scenes with practical effects is something I couldn't help but appreciate. There is one scene in particular that features a circular table saw that had my jaw on the floor. There is a minor use of CGI in one of its death scenes, in which one characters head boils over due to exposure to extensive heat in a steam room. But thankfully, it takes the more appropriate route of combining its use of CGI with practical effects to minimise its obviousness.

As great as this movie is, in all honesty, I felt like 'Frontier(s)' slightly lost itself in its own grandeur two thirds of the way through. As m

uch as I can appreciate development in a story and its characters, I seemed to me as though a much more simplistic and isolated take on the story would have worked better in this instance. The uncertainty we had earlier on in the movie within the closed confined space of the motel, was much more terrifying than the elements that were introduced to the story later on in the run time. That's not to say I was dissatisfied with the overall end results, I just seemed to lose the gritty momentum that was established within the first half.

Although not being successful upon its initial release, 'Frontier(s)' has deservedly earned its cult status amongst horror fans. This is a movie I would have no hesitations recommending and has some scenes here that will take some time to shake and some that I will likely be referring to for many years to come. If gritty foreign horror movies are your thing than 'Frontier(s)' is a movie that should be instantly added to your watch list.



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