Saturday, April 23, 2016

Frontier(s)


   Frontier(s) is a good one if you like this sort of flick. It sort of rounds out this unofficial trilogy of movies I lump together- all French new-wave horror flicks. It's Martyrs, Inside, and Frontier(s). I've known about all of them for ages, but I only just saw the latter two for the first time this week. I think Martyrs is the best one, followed closely by Inside (which I think is also the most easily accessible) and then Frontier(s) is trailing behind them. It's not... bad. Not at all. It's a very well made flick, but, it also never once made me think. Martyrs made me think, Inside made me think, Frontier(s) just presented me with gruesomeness and atrocity and... that was about it.

   I mean, that's fine. It's ultimate goal as a horror movie/splatter flick is to shock people, gross them out, and please the genre fans. Frontier(s) does all that with aplomb. It's just not thought provoking. It's about a group of thieves who flee the Paris to head for Amsterdam, but along the way they end up at a hotel run by a group of neo-Nazis. I do give the filmmakers props for maintaining an uncomfortable and palpable feeling of dread from beginning to end. It only fluctuates to get more intense and unnerving. It's just an unsettling movie even when nothing intense is happening because you know the characters are just GOING to find themselves trapped in a semi-literal hell.

   It's just how these movies go. I mean, look at the cover art. You either say "Hey, that's one I haven't seen yet." or it's "Holy Christ I'm never seeing this movie." If you're one of the former people, you probably won't be disappointed. I don't feel there's much middle ground here, the movie is exactly what I expected it to be. It's full of graphic gruesomeness and the like, with plenty of style and grime to go along with it. At times the cinematography is fantastic. If you dig twisted torture flicks, you'll find a lot to... sink your teeth into with Frontier(s).

   Mild spoilers ahead. Fair warning. The neo-Nazis aren't just neo-Nazis, no, they're also a family of incest-y cannibals. Woah ho ho. I think the whole concept behind that elevates the movie to infamous levels of shlock. Like, any one of those is enough. But, all three? Damn. Redneck, incestual, Nazi, cannibals? Oh man. If you weren't fucked when they were JUST neo-Nazis, you're triple fucked now. I felt that if anything the movie was at least creative in that regard. Things just kept getting worse and worse, and believe it or not it takes a lot of creativity to keep escalating things like that.

   The first half of Martyrs was a big back-and-forth morality struggle, before launching itself headfirst into grueling disturbing material. The first half of Frontier(s) is all perfunctory set up. It didn't really hook me, but I persisted regardless. I only found the characters interesting once they were in the thick of the violence and torture. Their behaviors and personalities came to life in a very raw way. I give the actors props. Each of them sold the hell out of their parts and I can't imagine it was an easy shoot either. Being chained up? Digging around in muck? Ech.

  The only genuine thing I think I had an issue with was the last bit of the movie which actually descends into action movie cliches. Go figure. I didn't expect it, but it felt more or less tacked on. It becomes a series of shootouts, which on one hand is interesting because very rarely are shootouts played as scary and intense as they would actually be... but on the other hand, there were too many "Really...?" moments. Like, the movie isn't really original to begin with but when you have that big explosion at the end, and a villain who SHOULD BE DEAD comes back when nobody expects... it's just... ridiculous.

   I mean, I can't complain, it's still a good movie. Even these moments are still directed with a deft hand and the entirety of the movie is thoroughly entertaining. Frontiers(s) nails the mood and visuals of this kind of movie and it does it very well. It's full of blood and torture and all other kinds of lurid thrills. I enjoyed it to the extent that someone can enjoy a movie like this, but I still would've preferred a more thought provoking story, because as is, the story is just a vehicle for gore and torture. Which, again, is fine... but I feel the genre has much more potential. Nevertheless, I like enough to lump it together with Martyrs and Inside- two movies that I feel are absolutely fantastic. Take that as you will.

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