Moments after my initial viewing of Xavier Gens’ Frontier(s), I noticed something quite peculiar; a few of my front teeth were missing. It was then that I assumed the film had kicked them out of my mouth during viewing.
Whoever says that hardcore horror is dead certainly hasn’t been keeping up with the recent crop of French genre pictures. Alexandre Aja’s High Tension, Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo’s Inside, and Gens’ Frontier(s) have all been tough, gritty films that hold nothing back and make sure the person (or persons) watching them will surely turn the player off affected. Unlike American horror, the types that either go for a mild PG-13 rating or think they’re more shocking than they really are (the entire run of Saw films), the French seem to know what they’re doing.
Gens was first introduced to American audiences with his 2007 action vehicle/videogame adaptation, Hitman, and there was some brief controversy surrounding that. Apparently, Fox wasn’t prepared for what Gens was going to do with Skip Woods’ script. In short, he turned what could have been atypical summer blockbuster formula into a dark, morbid character-driven film. Consequently, Fox ordered re-shoots and the movie’s release date was pushed back.
Perhaps that is most telling of exactly what kind of film Frontier(s) is. When a genre picture involves a bizarre family of neo-Nazis either feasting on their captured or using a carefully selected female to carry on the family lineage, you know the film in question aims to push some buttons. But not only is the bizarre content and tone of Gens’ morbid horror picture a total definition of what an NC-17 rating is (the movie received an NC-17 rating by the MPAA and, as far as I know, they said they would never be able to award it an R), it’s also packed with various grotesqueries, nonstop violence, and buckets of blood and gore.