Saturday, 20 February 2016


On the run through Parisian riot hell after a right-wing election victory, a carload of youths decamp to the countryside, but are waylaid at a stopover motel by a psycho family of neo-Nazi cannibals, in gore-fest Frontiers (2007), the feature debut of writer-director Xavier Gens (maker of Hitman). Yasmine (Karina Testa) is three months pregnant, which is all that saves her from joining murdered friends in elitist Von Geisler’s larder of salted cadavers, as these reclusive holdouts for a ‘master race’ need to expand their (contaminated) gene pool. Following several rounds of hardcore sadism, there’s an operatic dinnertime ordeal in store for Yasmine, where the hosts welcome her as their new leader’s bride.
Familiar episodes from Texas Chainsaw Massacre scenarios collide with the brutal torture–porn of Hostel and much frenzied bloodshed ensues, with an intense and gritty style that only falls back to rather less convincing horror action for the heroine’s brief visit to local mine works (where unwanted offspring lurk), the climactic slaughterhouse fighting, and a crowd-pleasing shootout for the archetypal bad girls with guns. Harassed, beaten, nearly broken, Yasmine is the slasher genre’s newest ‘final girl’, repeatedly drenched in her attackers’ blood, arterial spray reaching the fountain heights and lawn-sprinkler breadths of Shogun Assassin’s legendary blanket coverage of ‘red rain’.

If intro montages of TV news reports and location footage recall the seriousness of apocalyptic SF, the spectacular ending’s blunt force vengeance is reminiscent of spaghetti westerns. Part evocative fairy tale, part cautionary myth, with layers of sinister and savage theatricality in a blatant attempt to moderate our grieving heroine’s pain and suffering with some reassuringly disreputable ‘Grand Guignol’ retribution. This film is no respecter of safety zones or boundaries, delivering a wild rush of moral outrage, unflinching shocks, chilling despair, and dark comedy. Prefer your tragic horror movies resolved by merciless ultra-violence? (‘Born into a world of chaos and hatred?’) This one’s for you. 

Blight & shadowy: also reviewed in Black Static #6 (August 2008) ...

Diary Of The Dead
The Sick House
Ghost Game
Hell’s Ground
Bloodbath At The House Of Death
The Orphanage

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