.Xavier Gens' much touted by horror fans 2007 movie Frontier(s) (which is usually named alongside Martyrs, Haute Tension and Inside as one of the cornerstones of the French Horror Wave of the Aughts), but I'll be damned if I remember much about it, save a vague feeling of dissatisfaction. It didn't live up to its reputation, from what I recall - it's no Martyrs then, that's for sure. Gens' follow-up to that was the "Bald Timothy Olyphant" vehicle Hitman, which I reviewed in twelve perfect words - I stand by that today.
So I went into his latest, the post-apocalyptic basement fever flick The Divide with only moderate to low expectations. He's a slick image-maker - his films always look good. And he isn't one to hold back - he will get harsh up in it. But they don't entirely connect. Sadly The Divide continues that tradition. The main problem is one of location - these characters don't ever seem to inhabit the real world. There's not enough sense of place - they're supposed to be a bunch of New Yorkers who have raced into their basement shelter as the city's nuked around them, but I'll be damned if anybody feels like they inhabit the same space.
Atmospheric whiplash aside, there is stuff that works. Like I said, Gens isn't afraid to "go there," and things do get disturbing in the second half in an almost Grand Guignol kinda way, if Grand Guignol meant something slightly rape-ier. It might have hit home harder if you bought the characters a little more, though - Roseanna Arquette comes the closest, I think, to taking the script's broad outlines and filling in the details... and she has the most miserable arc of all, so that's fun.