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05.07.08

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Phaedra

Frontière(s)

One disc; Lionsgate; $19.98

By Steve Palopoli


After High Tension and Inside, France began getting some notice for a new wave of interesting but controversial horror films. Its latest horror export, the impossibly named Frontière(s), did plenty to cement that reputation before anyone here had even seen it—it was pulled from the slate of AfterDark's Horrorfest after it supposedly couldn't be cut for an R rating without compromising the integrity of the film. Whether or not this was a marketing ploy, it was certainly the best way to go—who wants to see a watered-down version of any horror movie? Still, this isn't the gorefest many will be expecting; though it has several graphic scenes, we're not talking the Guinea Pig movies or even Takashi Miike here. Instead, it's a quirky, smart and intense horror film obviously influenced by its French fraternité in look and editing style. High Tension was both loved and loathed for its unexpected twistiness, and Frontière(s) has its own stylistic idiosyncrasies that will fiercely divide horror fans. For one thing, it wears its bloody heart on its sleeve, going over the top to make its homages to past horror films obvious. That doesn't particularly bother me—I'm a DePalma fan, for chrissakes. But fanboys who got their panties in a bunch over Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses may find Frontière(s) even more infuriating in its reverence for every plot detail of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its city-vs.-country offspring. Throw in shameless nods to modern movies like Hostel and The Descent, and this is what the French call pastiche. Others will say rip-off, but in any case it's pretty fun to watch the fugitive Frenchies stumble around the borderlands in a fascist near-future while a crazy family tries to make mincemeat out of them.


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