75. Hitman (Xavier Gens, 2008)
I really enjoy computer games. Love ’em to bits (or bytes) I do. I do not have the same reaction when confronted with a film adaptation of a computer game. With trepidation I slipped in the Hitman disc. I’ve actually played a couple of the games and enjoyed them, as exercises in planning and, literally, executing a strategy they don’t have much in the way of a rival. The cold clean nature of the game and the main character is ideal for a game about killing, because that’s what it is. It’s a refined virtual killing engine, and a very good one. The over-arching plot of the games is reproduced here in the film; Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) is a bald, genetically engineered, assassin with a barcode on the back of his head. He works for the shadowy ‘organisation’ who give him assassination targets. When one appears to go a bit tits-up the organisation turn on 47 and he has to kill his way to the truth, so far so cliché. Along the way he picks up the pleasingly proportioned tart-with-a-heart Nika (Olga Kurylenko) who engenders a little bit of human emotion in the cold hearted killer. It’s all very flashy, an explosion or fight is never far away but the whole thing gets quite confusing in the middle – to the point where I got a bit confused. I’m not usually easily confused but there was a pretty big chunk where I was a bit clueless as to who was working for who and why. Needless to say the bad people were swiftly dispatched so it didn’t matter too much. The whole thing is pretty empty and soulless a bit like Agent 47 himself and unfortunately for the film-makers a little too close in spirit to the game.
Vetting movies before they get shown at my horror nights is pretty important given the horrific disaster when I didn’t check the wobbling shower of turds that is SARS WARS: Bangkok Zombie Crisis (2004, Taweewat Wantha) and inflicted it on my poor, poor friends. Hence this film is one of the films that will undergo the vetting process and will get a pass/fail at the end of the review.
38. Frontière(s) (Xavier Gens, 2007)
The French horror revolution continues apace with this brutal and harrowing entry from Xavier Gens. Set in the near future in an extrapolation of the far right flirtation of the French democracy a few years back and the inner city riots. This vision is one of absolute urban decay. Four friends escape this nightmare and hole up at an inn in rural France where the real terror begins. I don’t want to give up any more of the plot though, you’ll have to watch yourselves. Instead Frontière(s) demands attention as a tightly directed and edited horror ordeal, drawing its influence from its French brethren such as Switchblade Romance as well as its cross channel relatives like The Descent. There’s a liberal helping of American influence from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hostel but there is a distinctly European filter to these influences. Taking all of this into account it’s refreshing to note that Frontière(s) manages to remain a relatively original experience. Plentiful gore, claustrophobic scares, inventive visceral deaths and a sprinkling of neo-nazism is an effective recipe – long may the French horror revolution live on. This movie gets a big PASS!