Monday, 14 November 2011

Frontièr(s), dir/wr. Xavier Gens, st. Aurelién Wiik, Samuel Le Bihan, Estelle Lefébure

Part of the New French Extremity gamut of horror films, ultra-violent, ultra-gory, and often ultra-silly, it's hard to see 2007's Frontièr(s) as anything more than Gallic torture-porn. At least Gens has the gall to attempt an injection of academia into the proceedings, drawing parallels between the film's Texas Chainsaw-style, Nazi-inspired family hell-bent on creating a master race and its fictional Parisian election of an ultra-right wing president. From potentially uncomfortable and unpalatable yet undeniably fertile ground, the germ of what may have been a new strain of socio-political horror film alas fails to take root and the movie ends up being about nothing more than new and inventive ways to choreograph chasing screaming girls down dark corridors. Pedro Almodóvar's recent The Skin I Live In demonstrated in spectacular fashion how true horror can burrow so deep inside your mind you feel it wriggling away in there for weeks afterwards. It's the age-old adage of less is more and there's a numbing sensation that sets in - similar to the experience of watching Srdan Spasojević's tedious exercise in extremity A Serbian Film - after seeing Karina Testa's Yasmine being beaten, drugged, knifed, kicked, chained and degraded scene after scene. I would recommend instead Pascal Laugier's Martrys which, whilst being equally hard to stomach, at the very least ends up as a film with something contemplative to say about pain and suffering.