A wafer-thin premise that might have sustained a 10-minute short is stretched to the point of cruel and unusual punishment in “Frontier,” a no-budget digital-video indie that appears to have been made for a small circle of friends, most of whom are listed in the credits. Pic purports to be based on surviving fragment of “Froktog,” a masterpiece by the imaginary Mulnar Typsthat from the fictional land of Bulbovia. All credits and dialogue are in “Bulbovian,” a language created by writer-director David Zellner, but English subtitles are provided for the few who might care.
Broadly but weakly satirizing lyrical-folktale Russian cinema that flowered decades ago, “Frontier” focuses on the misadventures of two members of the Bulbovian Expansionist Research Corps. Assigned to survey a wilderness area, the two soldiers promptly go native in ways obviously intended to be funny. When one challenges a local to a fight — a ceremonial battle in which both participants wear raw chickens for boxing gloves — the jokes fall flat and the actors vamp desperately while tedium fogs the viewer’s mind. Tech credits are unimpressive.