aka HIGH TENSION
aka HAUTE TENSION
Movie Reviews by EDF and Lisa Henshall
Starring: Cecile De France, Maiwenn, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun, Andrei Finti
Director: Alexandre Aja
Review by EDF
Every few years gory horror movies reappear like clockwork to scare movie audiences out of their seats. Recently, it has not just been Hollywood producing decent horror movies, the quality coming out of the Asian film studios is so high that Hollywood are remaking them. Even the French have managed to come up with a bloody slasher movie that is so engaging and gory, it is enough to keep people on edge even when the movie is over.
Two college friends Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco) and Marie (Cecile De France) head off to the middle of the countryside to visit Alex’s parents. Even though it is hinted in the movie, Marie has affections for Alex but chooses to keep them to herself. The doorbell rings in the middle of the night and Alex’s father (Andrei Finti) gets up to answer it. Meanwhile, Marie looks down from her bedroom window to see Alex’s father being attacked by the mysterious visitor (Philippe Nahon). Quickly, Marie erases all trace of ever being in the bedroom as the killer quickly finishes off Alex’s father and heads up to Marie’s bedroom. Not finding anybody in the bedroom, the killer turns his attention to killing the rest of family but keeps Alex alive and kidnaps her. What can Marie do to save Alex and why is this person going on a killing spree?
Full of suspense, this is an engaging movie to watch as you follow Marie’s attempts to save her friend. At times, the mysterious killer is as relentless a killing machine as Leatherface was in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. There is enough gore and mutilation to keep the average horror fan very happy and the acting itself is believable. One can only imagine how viewers will take to rest of the movie once the plot reveals itself. I managed to figure out what it was all about before it was revealed and that did not spoil my enjoyment of the movie, and it should not spoil yours either.
Review by Lisa Henshall
I wonder which bright spark in marketing was responsible for giving this French horror film the awful title SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE for its UK release? It’s hardly an accurate translation of HAUTE TENSION. To be honest, I can’t decide whether they should be sacked on the spot for such an atrocious title…or recommended for promotion for the very same reason? The name certainly put me off and if it has the same effect on the rest of the potential audience, then my job is done and I don’t need to write this review. But that would be cheating wouldn’t it!
To be honest, as a straightforward slasher/psycho/serial-mass-murderer-on-an-inexplicable-killing-spree-in-the-French-countryside it works quite well for much of the movie. Seeing Marie trying so hard to hide from ‘dirty old overall guy’ in her friend’s isolated farmhouse and then following her attempts to help her best friend to also escape his clutches, you can’t help rooting for them even if it does all seem a bit cliched. If you like horrific gore you won’t be disappointed and because it’s French the cinematography is stylish and sleek in spite of the plot cliches. To give it its dues, in the early part of the film it is agonisingly tense at times.
So after that glowing reference, you’re probably wondering why I’ve given this film such a low rating.
Well, I’m afraid it’s because this film has the worst plot twist I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience. Unfortunately, it manages to ruin any enjoyment you have experienced up until that point. There are bad plot twists and there are really bad plot twists! To be honest, it would have been more plausible if Marie and Alex had just woken up at the end of the film and realised it was all a bad dream!! It’s that bad!
The same plot twist perhaps in the hands of a more accomplished director might have worked. But here it’s illogical, incoherent and probably thought up by the 13 year-old nephew of one of the producers. It just doesn’t add up to what the audience has been watching and you’re left wondering if you were even watching the same film.
My personal suggestion for anyone thinking they want to see the gore and tension at the beginning of the film and don’t mind not understanding the plot, is to simply leave 10 minutes* before the end of the film, thus avoiding any spoiling of your viewing pleasure – and in that case I’d give the film 3 stars.
* Your options are:
1) leave when the cops turn up at the petrol station (before the first hint of the dreadful plot twist appears) or
2) leave after Marie has fought ‘dirty overall guy’ and before she walks back to the truck to get Alex. You’ll already be realising the plot twist at this point, but you won’t have to sit through the next 10 minutes of rubbish, which drags on like Alex’s mother’s final death throes!!