New French Extreme time, on this occasion catching up with the much recommended Frontiers. The marketing for this is very strange – ‘From the director of Hitman’. Er, I don’t think you know your audience here, the ‘from the makers of Switchblade Romance’ works much better, but I’m imagining the lads sitting down for a Hitman type actioner and getting…this. I laughed.
Where Frontiers varies from other extreme titles, such as A Serbian Film or Martyrs is that it is far less unique. This is not a mess-with-your-brain Irreversible, more the rollercoaster ride of a Hostel or a better made Rob Zombie adventure. It’s basically cut, Frankenstein style, from the aforementioned Eli Roth classic, a touch of The Hills Have Eyes and a bucketload of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And a dark undercurrent of social political rage and Naziism. Phew, yes it made me as breathless watching it as it did describing it there!
This hodge podge of ideas is a strength though, once you get over the lack of originality, as whatever you are scared of or freaks you out is probably here. I’ve always been scared of tunnels, namely getting stuck and then never found (is that a common thing, I don’t know cause even talking about it freaks me out tbh) and also the sinister ideology of the Nazis. Now these things might seem very far apart, but hell, Frontiers faces them both head on and neither is pretty. The tunnel sequence had me literally gasping for breath, but perhaps it will be the knives, or the sledgehammer or the tendon ripping that gets you, trust me this is a greatest hits of horrors with something to freak everyone.
Faults? Well, the lack of originality, looking at it from the other side, is a weakness, even though I just described how it works. The thing is you’ll never go ‘You have to see Frontiers, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen’ like I did with Martyrs or A Serbian Film or The Human Centipede, therefore I doubt it will ever be anyone’s favourite Extreme title, despite being a very good one. Also, it lacks characters you can get behind, or that you care about. People often put the same charge to Eli’s Hostel, but I always felt for Jay Hernandez’s character and that is what made the second half of the film so chilling. Here, there is no one to support. It’s a group of cash stealing rioters vs the evil Family. I suppose you are meant to care about the main female, but she is just part of the robbery crew, for me there is a member of the ‘villains’ that gets my sympathy and she steals the film. To say more would sail us into Spoilerville, but yeah, you just want to hold her and get her out of there. It’s heartbreaking.
Frontiers is a dark and dirty treat, with a number of iconic kills and breathtaking sequences. It’s sewn together plot means it never hits the ‘classic’ pile, but it is definitely worth a look for the thrills and the blood spills.
Frontiers is available on DVD or to rent through Amazon Prime…