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Xavier Gens's Frontière(s)

Ah, the triumph of globalization: Give the French a taste of neo-fascism, race riots, and paramilitary crackdowns, and they seek solace in the American cinema’s current favorite pastime—vigorously art-directed torture porn. Coming after the arterial geysers of Haute Tension, Sheitan, and the reigning gusher of Gallic gore, Inside, the grisly debut of writer-director Xavier Gens (Hitman) takes the most bluntly political tack yet, stranding a quartet of banlieue outlaws at a remote motel staffed by—deep breath—the cannibal/mutant/alcoholic/nymphomaniacal spawn of an unrepentant Nazi. As a satire of France’s recent turn to the right, it’s both hysterical and muddled; as straight-up splatter—a Grand Guignol concerto of scalding steam, slashed tendons, and table saw, with a solo for exploding head—it’s as relentless as it is hateful, hammily directed, and derivative of the dreariest slop in contemporary American horror cinema. But it’ll please anyone (anyone?) who thinks The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake is better than the original.


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