Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 13: Frontier(s)

Last night I finally sat down and streamed this French film on Netflix. On Netflix (and most other places I've read reviews) the movie seems to be kind of polarizing. People seem to feel it's either one of the best movies to come out of the 'torture porn' trend, or that it's just another entry in that fad and a not very well made one at that.
Comparisons to Hostel are sure to arise (for one, because the movie takes place at a Hostel) but this, for me, is the far better film.
For one - I cared a lot more about the characters in this movie. I've noticed this is much more common in French films - even though the three men and one woman are essentially criminals on the run, I was a lot more invested in their struggle for survival than I am in many American films. Similarly, even the villians in this movie were more fleshed out (and maybe one or two, as we find, are not so villanous).

This movie was originally part of the After Dark film fest, but was pulled due to the graphic violence. I think that's too bad since it's superior to most movies I've seen from that brand. And as far as violence, it's certainly no worse that Hostel, and as far as the 'torture' aspect of it - much more is implied (as far as what may be coming and what's been done to others) than is actually seen. This is a family raised on Nazism by a controlling and evil father, and oh yeah, they have a use for those bodies later on too.

Another thing I have to come to enjoy about French horror films is the tendency to have their central female characters fight back - with a vengenance. Not content to just try to get away, they want to take their tormentors out while they're at it. And not just take them out but make them pay for what they've done as well.

There's no lack of the red stuff here (one of the worst scenes for me, however, involved not blood but escaping from a pig pen) and there's at least one scene that is completely cringe-worthy. But the film is no worse than High Tension, and I don't think it's as violent or hard to watch as Inside or Martryrs.

Especially powerful is a scene where one of the other women preps our heroine for her 'debut' in the family and gives us some insight into how this family is run.

The only complaint I'd have about this movie is a side story involving someone's offspring - it's explained and briefly shown - but never gone back to. I would have liked to see that aspect of the story more fully explored.

Overall, I thought this was a tense and compelling film and I recommend it - especially if you're a fan of French horror films. And if you haven't seen one before, this would be a good place to start.

-Mother Firefly

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