High Tension (Haute tension)

by December Lambeth on June 10, 2005

in Uncategorized

Scarlet starts therapy to deal with the tension

High Tension (2005) (Haute tension): 2 Stars

I have not seen so much blood since Hellraiser and I mean all the Hellraisers added together may not equal the amount of blood that is in High Tension. It’s gritty, gory, dark, scary, tense, freakish, creepy, insane, I could keep going, but you wouldn’t understand without actually seeing it for yourself. I’m still a little freaked out about the whole experience and may have serious problems sleeping.

[B]In Theaters June 10[/B]

I will tell you straight up, the French holds no bars when it comes to gore, guts and complete horror. High Tension starts with a grungy grimy guy getting a bj in the front of his truck and when he is finished he tosses the head out the window. Marie (Cécile De France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) are two college buddies who head out to Alex’s parent’s secluded farmhouse for a short holiday and some study time. Little do they know, that they are in for a night of pure hell. A knock at the door and before you know it Alex’s whole family has been slaughtered, including her little brother. I wasn’t lying when I said the French don’t joke around about horror, this film has an experience equivalent to every nasty scary 70’s horror film you could imagine, think of adding a little bit of Chainsaw Massacre, House on the Corner, The Hills Have Eyes and today’s House of a 1000 Corpses and then you may get the jist. The psychotic killer takes Alex hostage and drives off, not knowing he’s got Marie in the back with her. He stops at a gas station only long enough to fill up, slaughter the clerk, and move on to his attended agenda of raping, torturing, and possibly killing Alex. Marie sneaks out the back only to find herself stuck in the killers path and hiding out in the men’s restroom until he leaves. She calls the police, but gets nowhere and decides to chase after the killer and her friend without their help. This is where the film becomes very interesting and I can’t truly tell you any more with out giving the story away.
Writer/director Alexandre Aja and co-writer Gregory Levasseur wanted to create a film based off of the whole 70’s horror style, they wanted to do something different for French film and High Tension was just that. Using darkness and intense sounds, they created this whole tension and despair feeling that surrounds and engulfs the audience. The film is true horror, not in the style of the supernatural or over the top campy, but the type that makes you check your locks 2 or 3 times and think twice before you head off on holiday to some secluded area.
Adding to the reality of the angst that actors felt in the film was the shooting schedule, which took place in the middle of a very cold night, and the loss of the keys to unlock the chains that bound the actress who played Alex. The actors had a very tight shooting schedule that added to the tension on set and the comraderie that helped the film with the relationship compatibility between the two girls. The film is originally shot in French and the creators had to work through the language barrier to bring High Tension to main stream. They realized if they subtitled the film, it would only hit the art houses and they wanted it to go wide, so without compromising the style and dialogue they came up with a mix of dub and subtitle. Luckily, High Tension, is not a heavy dialogue film and the dub only last throughout part of the beginning and end. The film would have been better off if it was completely subtitled, the dub didn’t work so well and made it a little campy. Remember this is a foreign film and made on a low budget, it doesn’t have any fancy special effects and it’s completely in your face. The bloody splatter and slicing and dicing sounds are very realistic and the faint of heart shouldn’t even bother, it will turn stomachs.


I want to give High Tension kudos and say it was one of the most scariest movies I have ever saw, but sadly, I could not get past the logistics of the plot twist and all the gore. You will be completely surprised at the end, but that is because, story wise, it didn’t work. I went through the film over and over again in my head, trying to figure out how the villain did it, but still couldn’t make the plot turn out. I guess that is why the creators had decided to make a film with no message, they wanted to leave the audience just as exhausted and traumatized as the two main characters and they did accomplish that.
Here is a little trivia for you, the film in it’s full original form in Rated – NC17 and with less than a minutes edit got a R rating. I can not imagine what it was they took out to make it R, it has every possible graphic scene shown on film, but a rape scene.
High Tension will leave you breathless and a little nauseous. Be warned, don’t eat 2 hours prior to viewing this film.
High Tension (2005) (Haute tension)
Lions Gate Films
Rated: R for graphic bloody killings, terror, sexual content and language
Starring: Philippe Nahon, Maiwenn Nahon, Cecile de France
Directed by: Alexander Aja
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