Two soldiers (David Zellner and Wiley Wiggins) are sent by the Bulbovian Government to civilise foreign territories. Examining the desolate terrain, they encounter an amnesiac in a blacksmith's shop, and a pair of men dressed as animals playing children's games. Ignored by their beurocrat superiors after radioing for help, they declare the land for themselves. After dividing the terrain with an imaginary line, matters are complicated when one of the soldier's wives turns up, who takes a fancy to the amnesiac.
Directed by David and produced by brother Nathan, FRONTIER is both a badly concocted sham and a magnificent work of surrealism. Spoken in a made up language, set near fictional Bulbovia, and based on a novel that doesn't exist, it nonetheless works on a similar level to the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky (whose masterpieces include FANDO AND LIS and SANTA SANGRE) and Fernando Arrabal (of VIVA LA MUERTA! and I WILL WALK LIKE A CRAZY HORSE infamy). Using a jarring lack of logic and featuring some bizarre incidental details - such as a man crushing a bottle in a vice - the oddball situations and squabbling characters prove prescient. In the climate of aggressive foreign policy, it strangely reflects some controversial issues of today while taking the piss out of stuffy socialism!
Badly received by bloggers, FRONTIER risks throwing its viewer off track. With its mixture of absurd character behaviour with serious, straight-faced mood, the film is an indigestible pill for those reared on the commercial dreck and arrogant indie work that pollutes the market of today. It is, however, fertile ground for those tolerant enough to appreciate it on the terms set out by its makers. From the tiny European country of Bulbovia, the two main characters react in some bizarre ways to the barren woodlands that they have never seen before: the wheelchair-bound character played by Wiggins is able to walk for the first time after hearing birds sing. Awakening later on, the more aggressive Zellner protagonist sets the soil alight when he realises he's been sleeping on some ants.
A shot on video piece of work, FRONTIER still looks like a genuine film and avoids the "flatness and lifelessness" hilariously alluded to in Louis Catana's stunning debut CUP OF MY BLOOD (2005). Set mostly in woodlands (probably in the future), it features some crisply dappled lighting and visually, it isn't too far removed from the early scenes of Buddy Giovinazzo's little post 'Nam masterpiece COMBAT SHOCK (1985). With some hypnotic contrasts of light and shade, and themes of man going mad in his attempt to civilise unfamiliar terrain, Werner Herzog's great AGUIRRE, WRATH OF GOD (1972) is referenced, made concrete by some rhythmic humming.
Extras include two deleted scenes - an alternative ending and a silly scene in which Wiggins 'attacks a microwave' - as well as trailers for FRONTIER and other Film Threat releases. Aside from an amusing animation ad for Bulbovian War Bonds ("Buy Bulbovian War Bonds If You Love Your Children"), some of the bonuses are actually text, such as 'From Froktag to Frontier' which attempts to carry on the deception that it is based on a novel called Froktag, etc. The commentary does likewise, when its role should have been to give us some REAL insight to this misunderstood film.
Review by Matthew Sanderson
|Released by Film Threat|
|Region All NTSC|
|Extras : see main review|