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Movie Review

There's no end to the gore

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / May 12, 2008

If you name your horror movie "Frontier(s)," the expectation is that you plan to go beyond the usual tortures and degradations. On that score, Xavier Gens deserves congratulations for making a movie that wipes every other film about crazy cannibals off the map.

Now the cannibals are Nazis in the French boonies. And their newest victims - a multiracial gang of Parisian thieves - are mostly obnoxious. Your sympathies are meant to turn when the punks have to start running from Karl (Patrick Ligardes), Goetz (Samuel Le Bihan), and Hans (Joël Lefrancois). And they do. Watching a man get poached alive or have his Achilles tendon snapped (twice) tends to have that effect.

"Frontier(s)," which opened Friday, offers no monsters or crazy ex-boyfriends. Just butchers (actual ones), not unlike the one Philippe Nahon played in Gaspar Noé's notorious immersion in a psycho's psyche, "I Stand Alone" (1998), and more or less played again in Alexandre Aja's nonsense slasher movie "High Tension."

Gens appears to have a kernel of an idea. But he dumps his nifty political premise (that 10 years from now France is a borderline-fascist country) to disinter the country's old bogeymen and put them to his own tiresome sadistic ends.

Gens trafficks in the same ugliness as other horror shows but drags the torture on long enough for you to mistake yourself as someone chained to a dungeon wall. After more than an hour of the standard despicable eviscerations, the movie's dramatic weight falls onto the shoulders of the durable Karina Testa who plays Yasmine, the teariest and most female of the thieves (she's expecting). And "Frontier(s)" backs into being a "last girl" movie, wherein all the forces of evil focus on snuffing out one frantic, blood-soaked woman (here in a wedding dress; take that, Carrie).

Eventually, Yasmine's attempts at escape culminate in epic grisliness. The movie could have ended after the buzz saw table. Or after the gas tank explosion that follows the shoot-out in the supply shed. But "Frontier(s)" is full of gratuitous terrors, the grossest of which is its maker's astounding refusal to call it a day.

Frontier(s)

Written and directed by: Xavier Gens

Starring: Karina Testa, Patrick Ligardes, Samuel Le Bihan, and JoŽl Lefrancois

At: Cleveland Circle

Running time: 108 minutes

In French, with subtitles

Rated: NC-17 (Gore and extreme sadistic graphic violence, on the body, mind, soul, and wallet)

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