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John’s Horror Corner: Frontiers (2007), a fine installment to extreme French splatter cinema

March 29, 2014

frontiers-2007MY CALL: This is a well-composed, solidly executed film and lovers of cruelty and jaw-dropping violence will likely enjoy it. It’s not great–but very good for sure. MORE MOVIES LIKE Frontiers: Looking for more extreme French cinema? Go for Martyrs (2008) and High Tension (2003) for sure! TITLE VARIATIONS: Frontier(s) or Frontière(s).


I’m beginning to develop a fondness for extreme French cinema. Martyrs (2008) and High Tension (2003) delivered some solid splatter along with well-thought stories that didn’t seem run-of-the-mill, formulaic or familiar. Frontiers may follow the ABCs of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, but it remains well-executed and moderately interesting.


Four morally questionable twentysomethings flee to the country from Paris after political events result in violent riots citywide. They find their way to an inn run by some rather crude, aggressive, lascivious folk…two attractive women, and their rough brother Goetz (Samuel Le Bihan; Brotherhood of the Wolf). They exude a strange mixture of unnervingly forced hospitality and an almost sociopathic abrasiveness. During their stay we come to find that much more of this strange family runs things around here…and not in the most conventional of ways.


This twisted family turns out to be a bunch of cannibalistic neo-Nazis with a patriarchal pecking order and they have plans for their new guests. From here, as with any Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn, Hostel or Hills Have Eyes film, we sit back and watch while wondering if any of our protagonists make it out alive.


Writer/director Xavier Gens (The ABCs of Death – X is for XXL) brings us from a socially/sociopathically awkward bed and breakfast to a tour de force of violence, cruelty and gore. From hooks through Achilles tendons to using boltcutters on Achilles tendons, this film provided me with ample reasons to wince…and a lot of reasons for me to fear for my Achilles tendons! The sound editors clearly had their hands full with all of the bloodsplatter, bludgeoning, crushing and stabbing going on.


I was especially pleased with the acting. I don’t speak French, but the fear of the victims felt real and the family had a more intelligent and methodical Texas Chainsaw-esquevibe to their unsettling behavior and fearful respect of their father. The fear was certainly merited and shared by the audience because of the tone set by the constant violence. Although the violence never turns to rape or sexualized violence (like so many movies just out to shock us at whatever cost), there is abundant violence against women and the ease with which it’s executed is truly illustrative of the soulessness of our villains.


I found this to be a well-composed, solidly executed film and lovers of cruelty and shocking violence will likely enjoy it.  It’s not as intense, innovative, jaw-dropping or spectacular as Martyrs, nor does its mood ascend to the weirdness of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but this deserves the time of anyone who watches more than one horror movie per week.


This review was of the unrated director’s cut, which was not available with English dubbing. Surprisingly, the subtitles seemed poorly translated at times. I won’t explain…it’s no big deal, but you’ll see what I mean unless you can follow the film in French.


10 Comments leave one →
  1. Victor De Leon permalink
    March 29, 2014 12:06 pm

    Nice review, bro. I saw this one a while back and liked it but only enough for a one time watch. Not sure I would re-visit it. I think Martyrs is probably my fav of these 3 French horrors. Haute Tension was cool but the ending (I know I’m in the minority, here) did absolutely nothing for and I was disappointed.

    Good work on the post. Keep ’em coming!

  2. johnleavengood permalink
    March 29, 2014 12:22 pm

    I agree with your ranking of those three films with Martyrs first and this last. Kind of you to say “nice review”…but this review was really just something I wrote because I saw the movie and have a website rather than something I felt “compelled” to write, if you know what I mean. I enjoyed this and, likewise, probably won’t see it again (or at least, not for a very long time).

    • Victor De Leon permalink
      April 2, 2014 1:33 pm

      Yeah, I get you. Only watched it once myself and that’s good enough for me.

      • johnleavengood permalink
        April 2, 2014 7:00 pm

        Me, too. For me it was good without a doubt. I just…wasn’t excited to write about it, you know? It just didn’t bring anything new to the table. Like you, I liked it. But I doubt I’ll see it again in under 5-10 years.


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