2008, Movie, NC-17, 160 mins


French filmmaker Xavier Gens' A TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE-inspired thriller adds a dash of political spice to the meat-movie formula.

A deeply divisive election explodes into rioting in the Paris streets, and five friends from the banlieus take advantage of the chaos to pull off a robbery. As is so often the case, their real troubles begin with the get away. Sami (Adel Bencherif) is shot and his pregnant sister, Yasmine (Testa) – who's planning to have an abortion rather than bring her baby into a world of hatred and violence -- refuses to go anywhere without him. Her ex-boyfriend, Alex (Aurelien Wiik), the father of her child, comes up with a plan: He and Yas will take Sami to the hospital, while Tom (David Saracino) and Farid (Chems Dahmadi) will take the money and find an inconspicuous motel somewhere near the Belgian border. Yas and Alex will join them later, and they'll all go to Amsterdam. Naturally, things go badly wrong. Farid and Tom, who've barely been out of their own neighborhood, let alone Paris, get high and turn into Dachville, where they find a small hotel run by the Von Giesler family. After some debauchery with sisters Gilberta (Estelle Lefebure) and Klaudia (Amelie Daure), Tom and Farid realize they've stumbled into a nest of Nazis, whom they later discover are cannibals as well. Yas and Alex arrive later and are imprisoned as well. Who will survive, and what will be left of them?

Gens claims to have conceived the film during the 2002 French presidential elections, ultra-right wing candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen made a surprising strong showing at the polls, but it's easy to miss the conceit that FRONTIERE(S) is set slightly in the future, under a repressive conservative regime. But the suggestion that the Von Gieslers embody a strain of French racism is crystal clear: They despise Yas and her friends because they aren't racially pure, and regard them as no better than hogs destined for the dinner table. Though neither subtle nor particularly original, Gens' spin on the meat-movie classic has both nightmarish energy to spare. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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