MARIE & ALEXIA ARE CLASSMATES & BEST FRIENDS. TO PREPARE FORCOLLEGE EXAMS IN PEACE & QUIET, THEY DECIDE TO SPEND A WEEKENDAT ALEXIA'S PARENTS' SECLUDED FARMHOUSE. IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT,A STRANGER KNOCKS ON THE DOOR. WITH TH... more »E 1ST SWING OF HIS KNIFE, THE GIRLS' IDYLLIC WEEKEND TURNS INTO AN ENDLESS NIGHT OF HORROR« less
"LOL! So I'm not sure exactly how I got on here twice...the other review is supposed to be for the DVD release, not this one...sorry for innundating you all with my two reviews instead of one :-\
When I originally wrote this review, it was based off of the import DVD from France that I was able to get about 5 months ago. But, Amazon took all reviews down as it got closer to the movie release date here in the states. So I'm redoing my review based on the American release.
The American release is a cut version of the French film which received an NC-17 rating. This rating means death at the US box office, so they cut it down a bit. I'm happy to tell you that they didn't cut too much. I think the length of the movie dropped maybe 2 minutes at the most. Ironically, what was cut from the movie was not any scene involving sex. Most NC-17 films that are cut to miss the rating, have their sex scenes cut. In this case, it is the hardcore violence that is slightly muted. In some cases this works because I thought some of the violence early on (see the weird decapitation) was over the top blood wise, verging on Kill Bill type blood. But, it also detracts from the ending with the scene involving the wood spike and barb wire. That scene, unfortunately, was cut down.
This movie is sick and I don't mean sick as in cool (though it is cool, too). Even cut down, this movie is violent and bloody. In fact, I cannot recommend this movie to anyone who is squeamish, weak stomached or scared easily. That said, if you are tired of the current crop of American horror movies (Cursed, Hide and Seek, Alone in the Dark, Ring 2, et al ad nauseum) and want something visceral and in your face, look no further.
I will only talk about the setup to this movie. It's about two college girls who go to one of the girl's family farm for a weekend to study in peace and quiet. But when a guy pulls up in the dead of night in front of their house, it becomes a cat and mouse game between one of the girls and a truly homicidal man. And what follows is about 85 minutes of pure tension. The movie is aptly named. While there are few "cheap jump out scares" in the movie, there is this feeling of tension that balls up in your stomach where you constantly wonder when the protagonist will make the wrong move.
If you have read the book Intensity by Dean Koontz, the setup is very similar to that. It's like the director was working with that book as a starting point for the movie before moving in a different direction, namely changing the events leading up to the climax. In fact, I'm surprised there hasn't been more mention of this fact since half of the movie is almost scene for scene from the book in some ways. My recommendation is to not check out any other reviews for this movie. I've read a few on some different websites and they gave away some of the plot.
The director knows music and uses it very effectively to increase the tension of the movie. Unlike horror music today, it doesn't peak at moments to tell you "be scared right...NOW!" Instead, he uses some ambient music that you might not be aware you're hearing but you will feel its effects. For example, he uses a metranome that dings at a constant beat, mirroring your heart beat thudding. It's subtle but very effective in pulling you into the movie and making you feel like even the music could give away the protagonist's hiding place.
The acting is also really well done. Well the physical acting. Since this is a French film, the movie is dubbed instead of being subtitled and while the voice dubbers did an admirable job, it's still dubbed. The dubbing in the theatrical cut is different from the version I have. In the theatrical cut, they tried to make the characters bilingual. I think this detracted from the movie. I happen to not like dubbing, but I would rather them stick with one form through the movie, not moving back and forth at will for no apparent reason.
If you enjoyed the movie, I'd recommend trying to get a copy of the import version through Ebay or something. The DVD version is rated NC-17 for a sexual scene, brief nudity and more violence and blood than you can imagine. Overall, it's better than the theatrical cut.
I have to talk about the major turning point in the movie. I have seen this movie 4 times now, twice from the DVD I own and twice in the theatre. When I first saw the twist ending, I thought it was cool. But after thinking about it, I didn't think it made much sense and was confused about it. After seeing it an almost obsessive 4 times, I can say that I understand the ending and that it really does make sense. It's a different kind of movie than what most American cinema goers are used to.
I've seen a lot of foreign films, both horror and not, and a prevalent theme is that they are usually ambiguous and allow the viewer to draw their own conclusions. This movie falls into this category. If you think about it, and watch it more than once, you can see how the movie falls into place. They don't lead you along by the hand, you have to see and find the puzzle pieces that fit. I will tell you that after seeing it so many times, most of the puzzle pieces are there. I can see how the ending will infuriate and frustrate some. I can also see how people will say the ending doesn't make a lick of sense. It's true that on your first viewing it won't make much or any sense. But, if you see it a couple times you can see how it fits together. The question is, is it worth it to you to see how it works or not? For me it was.
Ending aside, however, what we have here is a truly intense and disturbing film. Not only in what happens in the film but the themes only hinted at in the film. Because of its content only those who truly like horror movies should see this movie. Truthfully, why do us horror fans go to see scary movies? To be scared. Not to discuss the twist ending. For me, this movie was intense and scary. It's very in your face and not for the weak of stomaches. But if you can stomach it, it can leave you breathless."
Interesting addition to the Horror Genre
Amy Lynn | Pennsylvania United States | 03/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"High tension is a new and interesting horror film recently released. Ive never seen anything like it before. They dont call it High Tension for nothing, thats for sure. The whole movie will have you on the edge of your seat and there is more than the fair share of shocks and suprises throughout the film. The overall atmosphere has a lonesome creepy feeling about it, full of cornfields, seclusion and quietness. Gorehounds will love this, there is tons of gore and the ending will suprise the hell out of you. There are very few horror films that can shock you in such a way where you literally jump out of your seat but this one has its moments.
Setting,France. The story surrounds Alex and Marie, 2 college students who retreat to Alex's parents isolated farm house looking to study for their college exams for the weekend. While everyone in the house settles in for the night, Marie is in bed when she starts to hear sounds and sees a truck pull up. Soon enough a homicidal maniac breaks in the home and from there its a non-stop rollercoaster ride of terror. And then the twist at the end..
This is a movie that shouldnt be missed by fans of the horror genre. It revels in its gore and has a smart edge to it. High Tension is partially dubbed into english but for a lot of the movie you dont need subtitles. Noone says a word and the actions say it all.
Unrated version DVD Features- 16:9 Widescreen 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital U.S Unrated Version DVD Introduction with Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur Haute Horror- Making of High Tension Building Tension Giannetto De Rossi: The Truth, The Madness and The Magic Selected Scenes commentary with Alexandre Aja and Cecile de France Original French language Director's Cut U.S. English language dubbed version Optional English subtitles, Optional Spanish Subtitles and Trailers
Overall Highly recomended, try to get the unrated version.
Tension so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Andrew Estes | Maine | 06/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The feature film breakout from French director Alexandre Aja is just the kind of grueling and grisly splatter-fest you won't soon forget. However, "High Tension" (or "Haute Tension," if you prefer) is more than just gore galore with a stylistic touch; it's also a psychological horror that not only plays with your mind, but alters your expectations of what a horror movie could and should be as well.
In the film, best friends and college students Alex and Marie find their vacation in a remote farmhouse owned by Alex's parents cut short when a mysterious man in a grungy overalls welcomes himself in. After the family is dispatched of and the man kidnaps Alex in his creepy Scooby-Doo van, Marie pursues him on a roadtrip that finds the carnage mounting as the tension builds, capping off in an unforgettable conclusion.
Proving to be a true master of horror, Alexandre Aja combines arresting visuals with disturbing imagery to concoct a bold piece of cinema that takes the genre to a whole new level. Among its accomplishments, this film marks the beginning of the French horror boom that eventually gave way to the director's fruitful career in the United States, directing the successful remake of The Hills Have Eyes. It's a tough film to discuss without giving too much away, but rest assured, its effects will linger for days after seeing it. It's a film that begs to be seen twice as there is so much to digest and the film leads you to believe it's something it's not the first go-round. Crammed full of suspense, gore and style, "High Tension" is the kind of film that more than lives up to its name.
Does Dean Koontz know they ripped off his story?!
KatWoman | Nova Scotia, Canada | 10/30/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this movie, it was very gory and a fun more R-rated remake of Intensity....until I figured out the ending was different and it WASN'T a remake of Intensity at all AND the original creater of this great story, Dean Koontz, didn't even get credit for it! Within the first 10-15 mins, it is painfully obvious that this is a total remake of Intensity from the college friend visiting the friend's family to the guy showing up at night and killing them one by one to the friend hiding under the bed and making the room look like no one was using it to her sneaking into the truck, the daughter being the only one to live by capture, and on and on and on....for all but the last 15 mins of this movie it WAS Intensity. How disappointing that there was no credit given to Koontz...what a ripoff. A great movie that just left a bad taste in your mouth. PS Koontz, your ending was WAY better!"
Psycho Killer, Qu'est-ce qu c'est?
Dark Mechanicus JSG | Fortified Bunker, USSA | 12/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Alejandre Aja serves up a sulphurously nasty little gut-churner of a horror flick that finally answers the age-old burning question: is there anything hotter than a buff chick wielding a buzz-saw?
A: Absolutement, non!
Now: is it possible to conjure up a pure, nightmarish gem of a horror movie, perhaps even a *perfect* horror movie, within the space of about an hour?
It is: Aja has done it with "Haute Tension", which---for its first 60 minutes, perhaps a little more---positively boils over with knuckle-splitting suspense and runs crimson with boatloads of brains, blood, and clotted gore.
While "Haute Tension" works, it works in spades. Here we have an athletic, spare, no-bullsh*t little horror flick that drives up to your house in the dead of night (while you're just getting into that "I gotta be dreaming" state of deep-groggy-helplessness), smashes your door down, stomps up your stairs, and butchers you like a squealing hog before you've even gotten your jammy-clad butt clear of the bedclothes.
"Haute Tension" is a compact, stylish, jarring, gorgeously shot, supply terrifying little tale of a happy little family and their visitor Marie (the astonishingly nubile Cecille de France, who can wield her buzz-saw on my country estate any time), enjoying a quiet, slightly rustic life in the French countryside, and what becomes of them one night when a Monster comes calling.
Is it possible to destroy that perfect film within 10 seconds?
Mais oui!---Aja does that as well, in the final reel, with a cheap, feeble "twist" plot device that basically takes everything in the flick that has gone before and tosses it into the sh*tter, effectively taking a highly disrespectful, unceremonious dump on what was---up to that point---one of the few flicks I've ever seen that came close to the raw, brutal, uncompromising horror of the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".
Ah well: we do what we can with what we're given. "Haute Tension" is marvellously simple: two French chicks---Marie (the buff De France) and Alexia (Maiwenn le Besco, who for some reason sets my teeth on edge, and not in a good way) decide to spend a little quality time studying on Alexia's family farm deep in the French countryside. Relaxing, n'est-ce pas?
Their little collegial R&R is broken up in the dead of night by The Killer (the amazing Philippe Nahon), who shows up, kicks down the front door, and manages to single-handedly undo 200 years of nasty jokes about wimpy Frenchmen by unloading all sorts of hardcore a**-whuppery on the unsuspecting family within. In his first two minutes onscreen, he manages to make Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy Krueger look like a bunch of pansies.
He also brings some much needed punishment-fits-the-crime judgement to the horror genre: be slow to answer your door at 2 in the morning? Have your block knocked off by a chest-of-drawers! Have the bad form to try and call the police? Try dialing 9-1-1 with a stump, mademoiselle!
As I mentioned, when "Haute Tension" works---and it continues to do its brutal business well even after the stupid twist---it works in spades: this is a pungent, nasty, truly scary flick. De France is astonishing to look at, but she's also an amazingly capable actress, and serves as a fitting opponent for the flick's hungry Monster in his blood-spattered, trophy-studded delivery van.
And let's save the best for last: Philippe Nahon as The Killer is just astonishing in what could easily have been a throwaway role. Nahon played The Butcher in the lose-your-dinner-horrific "I Stand Alone", and he's effectively bottled and distilled that coiled rage and translated it into "Haute Tension".
Nahon's Killer is a show-stopper: he's a kind of black hole of pure physical presence and smoldering, sadistic evil---check out that sick little smile that forms up on his fat pug while he's checking out his 'trophies' in the rear-view mirror. Gorgeous. Nahon's Killer is a nasty piece of work.
The same can be said of "Haute Tension", despite its glaring flaw: Aja has created a very simple---deliciously simple---little film that touches---Hell, presses down hard---on that deep-seated, primal fear of the Murderous Outsider barging in through our door in the wee hours of the morning and killing, raping, burning and eating everything we hold dear.