Best friends Marie and Alexia decide to spend a quiet weekend at Alexia's parents' secluded farmhouse. But on the night of their arrival, the girls' idyllic getaway turns into an endless nig... Read allBest friends Marie and Alexia decide to spend a quiet weekend at Alexia's parents' secluded farmhouse. But on the night of their arrival, the girls' idyllic getaway turns into an endless night of horror.Best friends Marie and Alexia decide to spend a quiet weekend at Alexia's parents' secluded farmhouse. But on the night of their arrival, the girls' idyllic getaway turns into an endless night of horror.
Now, what we have are a plethora of films that follow in M. Night Shyamalan's footsteps after his monster and genre defining hit SIXTH SENSE. It's a great film that puts the suspense back in horror. And as much as I love Sixth Sense, as much as I respect what Shyamalan has done to help redefine horror, too many of today's film makers try to emulate him and screw things up.
HIGH TENSION, for the first 80 minutes of the movie is a true testament to the basic primal animal that we are, or can be. It is an uncompromising and relentless attack of our senses, our nerves and our being. It shreds the neo horror film ideology that THE RING and Sixth Sense seemed to invent and instead grabs a hold of your intestines and squeezes and then twists. It is about as intense of a film as I have seen in quite some time. While not as sick and depraved as Last House on the Left, it treads in the same water. This has the look and feel of a 70's guts on the wall horror film and for that, I applaud Alexandre Aja for writing and directing a film that looks like it had very little studio intervention and as such the film is about as shocking a film as you will see from any North American distributed film.
High Tension's strength is that it is about as violent and blood soaked as any film from the period that it pays homage to. Gone is the horror film blueprint that teens seem to love today. This is a film made by a director that grew up perhaps admiring some of the greats from three decades ago. You can see homages to films like Friday THE 13TH, MADMAN, THE STEPFATHER, and of course Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There are at least 4 scenes in this film that truly shocked me. The violence is real, it is macabre and it is brutal. Blood spills, it flows, and it sprays. I have never seen someone get their throat slit, but I would imagine it would something like it does in this film.
The pace of the film is frenetic and at about the twenty minute mark, the dialogue pretty much stops and what we have is a cat and mouse game. Aja does his talking with chainsaws, barbed wire and a switchblade. There is much attention to detail in this film and I guess that sort of justifies the end, which is about as beguiling as any legerdemain present in any of the films since Sixth Sense.
The ending has to be mentioned because as I'm sure many of you know by now, the ending is unnecessary chicanery. It just didn't need to be there. But to be fair, the film does allude to the road it is embarking on, it just seems like an extrinsic path. The denouement of the film, can be a distraction and take away from the raw emotion the film does a great job of making you feel up until this point. And if you examine the film, you'll realize that what you have seen for the last 80 minutes is pretty much impossible. I took all of that into consideration before writing this review. And what it comes down to is this: The films is so perfect before the preposterous ending, that you can kind of ignore the impossibilities and chicanery. If you can just see the film for all of its brilliance before the last ten minutes, you'll love the pure terror that this film presents us with. But just a word of warning. The ending is misleading and dishonest.
This film is an amalgamation of Last House and Sixth Sense. The twist, which may have been attractive to the talking heads in charge of the studio, also takes away from the artistic integrity of the film. I, as other reviewers have mentioned, would much rather a psycho killer gone mad than a film that has to deceive us with a SLEEPAWAY CAMP type slap in the face. While Sleepaway Camp is a good film but not nearly in the class of High Tension, the ending fit there. Here, it is just plain wrong.
High Tension scores a 9/10 from me because it is about as good a horror film I have seen in the last ten years. The last 10 minutes drags it down to a 9 instead of a 10, but this film is raw, it is primal and it is made with ingenuity and care and it is a true homage to the horror films that I grew up with. This is truly a must see for any horror fan.
- Oct 18, 2005