Sorry for the late posting of this!
It is election-time and riots are on the streets due to the fact that a potential fascist government may gain power. A group of protestors are shot down and head for a place to stay, they then come across a motel owned by a family of neo-nazis.
Sometimes there are films I watch which I can objectively say are masterpieces, but sometimes for no apparent reason, I do not emotionally react to them. It may be because I’m not in the right mood, or in this case because I have been watching horror films endlessly non-stop. I can objectively say that if somebody else saw this and if they were in the right frame of mind, they would be left disturbed and utterly horrified. Cinematography adds to the terrifying atmosphere due to its bleak colours. Direction is pitch-perfect. Tension is at the max. Acting is utterly realistic.
Frontiers is a brutal political horror film of such raw extreme power that it forces you to mutter the words: why? Why did the Nazis commit such human atrocities? Was all of the bloody killings in the past, and seen in this film worth it for some ‘pure’ Aryan race? No, it wasn’t and will never be. The film says this ‘no it isn’t’ statement with an incomprehensible confident assurance. What makes Frontiers so excellent is that it is unashamedly brutal and unsubtle – it is part of a current filmic movement called ‘New French Extremity’ – a sub-genre/movement of ‘extreme cinema’. Leaders in this movement include Gaspar Noe and taboo subjects and explicit violence are used to shape an emotional reaction and to challenge the viewer on difficult subjects. Other films in this genre are Martyrs, and this genre is directly influenced by horror and exploitation cinema, and political-horror such as Salo: 120 Days of Sodom.
Frontiers criticises neo-nazis ideologies and basic principles with such excruciating bluntness that by calling the film exploitation would come across as an insult. The violence is extreme, gory and messy. But the violence never feels exploitative, cheap or camp because it is presented in such an honest manner, it feels real – this is partially due to the flawless acting and use of handheld camera techniques. If anything, the realism makes it more intense.
I think I really have to stress how brutal the film is. There are scenes where people are tied up, beaten. A scene where a man is put into a small claustrophobic tank, and hot gas is injected in – a very obvious metaphor for the innocent people gassed to death in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. A scene where a girl has to crawl through mud to get underneath bars to try to escape. A scene where a young girl who has been stolen from her family cuts a brunette woman’s hair, in preparation for her to be a new man’s wife, because he does not like dirty brown hair. Characters are stripped of their humanity, and the final shots are of the survivor character crying and screaming as he/she escape in a car. This final character is as memorable and up there as Sally in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I have only mentioned brief moments of this film to give you an idea of what it is like, I do not want to spoil it for you, so I have described it in as much detail as possible without giving too much away.
This is a movie which perhaps towards the end didn’t emotionally affect me because I have been desensitised over the last days. To say that this has annoyed me would be an understatement. But it did at least make me think. I consider this to be a sheer masterpiece of horror, and calling it horror almost feels degrading towards it. I think the only term is: art. Gruesome, honest, brutal art. This film isn’t just terrifying, it’s terrifyingly confrontational.