STUDIO: After Dark Films
MSRP: $10.99
RATED: NC-17 (woo-hoo!!)
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes

The Pitch

Cannibals? Bah. Neo-Nazi cannibals? Well, maybe… Neo-Nazi cannibals and NC-17? Sold!

The Humans

Karina Testa, Aurelien Wiik, Patrick Lagardes, David Saracino, Maud Forget, Samuel Le Bihan, Chems Dahmani, Amelie Daure, Estelle Lefebure, Joel Lafrancois, Adel Bencherif, Jean-Pierre Jorris.

The Nutshell

In the midst of widespread riots that are gripping France during a controversial election, a group of thieves are looking to escape Paris with their ill-gotten gains from a heist gone wrong. Joining them is Yasmine (Testa), the sister of one of the thieves and pregnant girlfriend of another. The gang split up to arrive later at a run-down hostel hours outside of the city. When they get there, however, they find a group of Neo-Nazi’s with a penchant for having their guests for dinner.

Somehow, don’t ask me how, these guys saw me while I was preparing this review…

The Lowdown

Frontier(s) is almost as controversial as its director, Xavier Gens (Hitman).  Initially slated to be one of the 2007 After Dark Horrorfest films, it instead got slapped with the dreaded NC-17, which limited its theatrical run severely, and relegated it to DVD a week after its premiere. Shame really, because this is pretty much the best of the lot. It has its issues, namely in that Gens doesn’t even try to hide that he borrows liberally from some very notable films, and not all of them even horror films. There are obvious sequences inspired by snippets of Hostel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Descent, and any number of the recent cannibal / redneck horror films that have littered the multiplexes, some good, some not so good. The film even starts out Reservoir Dogs-style in the aftermath of an unspecified heist gone bad.  Be that as it may, Gens weaves those threads from other films into a pretty satisfying tale that doesn’t skimp one iota on the rather impressive gore.

Yeah, that was my reaction too when watching several of the other After Dark Horrorfest flicks…

Testa is engaging as Yasmine, the troubled moll of Alex (Wiik), who is part of a gang of four malcontented young men who managed a score during riots that are threatening to engulf France. They barely manage to escape the cops in a riot-stricken Paris, although Yasmine’s brother, Sami (Bencherif), has been mortally wounded. After some infighting amongst the crew, Alex and Yasmine agree to meet up with the other thieves, Tom (Saracino), who’s an outright asshole, and Farid (Dahmani), a Muslim, after dropping Sami off at a hospital. Tom and Farid find a hostel hours outside the city that’s manned by two young women, Gilberte (Lefebure) and Klaudia (Daure), and Goetz (Le Bihan), a well-built handyman. After sampling some of the local amenities, including Gilberte and Klaudia, Tom and Farid are interrogated by a local cop, Karl (Ligardes), who is interested in the sack of money they’ve brought with them.

It was at this point that I was hoping to GOD he was talking about the kitchen…

Things quickly go from bad to worse when Tom and Farid discover that all of the locals that they’ve met so far are more interested in killing them than arresting them, so they flee for their lives, only to end up in an abandoned mine nearby after a hellacious car crash. They explore the mine, including a claustrophobic crawl through a narrow passage, only to learn that they’re not alone down there. They then meet up with the rest of the locals, who are running a slaughterhouse. You can imagine how things go for them from there. Later, Yasmine, destroyed over the death of her brother, and Alex go to the same hostel, and quickly meet up with a similar fate.

Always nice to see Paul McCrane still getting work…

Yasmine then discovers that she and the others are the victims of a clan of Neo-Nazi cannibals, who run the hostel to snare unwitting travelers and treat them to dinner. The Nazis, led by a real former member of the Third Reich, plan to have Yasmine join them, and the old man, Von Geisler (Jorris) is pleased to learn she’s already pregnant, which will speed up the growing of his planned new world order.  From there on it’s a desperate struggle for Yasmine to escape that takes her literally through a world of shit and blood – oh lots of blood.

This was the first – and consequently last – time Yasmine and this guy decided to give it a go on the table saw…

Frontier(s) deserves every bit of the NC-17 it received. There’s enough blood here for any two horror films, and some fairly entertaining deaths backed by some quite good effects work. This is a visceral movie, bathed in gloominess and offal. Gens has a good eye for instilling dread, although the last reel gets a little too outlandish as Yasmine goes from one bad guy to another. Not quite sure what Gens was shooting for with the riot and election backdrop, other than some sort of social commentary.  However, it’s never fully explored beyond the first act. There’s further implied commentary on the character of Farid, who isn’t really liked by the bad guys, as they frequently make with the hurtful racial slurs on him. Normally subtitled flicks aren’t my bag, but I had no problem following this movie. Turns out blood is the universal language.

Yeah, you’d be upset too if the best thing you could come up with to escape a bunch of Nazi cannibals was a Volkswagen Golf…

The Package

The film looks fine, if deliberately washed out and gritty at times. Sound is also suitably good. Be prepared to read the movie, though. There’s only a French language track, with English and Spanish subtitles. No special features, not even those annoying Miss Horrorfest featurettes that littered the other Horrorfest flicks.

5.9 out of 10