Monday, July 3, 2017

Film Review: High Tension (2003)

High Tension (Review)
France/2003
Format Viewed For Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you love suspenseful and violent horror films, you'll love this movie. If you need everything to make sense..."

Best friends Marie (Cécile de France) and Alex decide to spend a weekend at the secluded farm house of Alex's parents. However, on the night of their arrival, a mysterious man attacks the home and leaves the friends fighting for survival...

High Tension follows Marie and Alex. After nights of partying, the pair head out to the house of Alex's parents so Marie can meet them for the first time. The night begins as expected—meet the family, settle in, and so on. Then, a man in a rusty truck knocks on the front door. This grubby man slaughters Alex's family and kidnaps Alex while remaining completely unaware of Marie's presence. One thing leads to another, and the friends find themselves fighting for survival. The plot has no filler and a very fast pace. I'm afraid if I continued discussing the plot I'd just end up spoiling something. I will say: this film would have been better without its 'twist' ending. The ending is interesting and there are ways to make it sorta work, but it ultimately opens too many holes.


Still, High Tension is a great film. For one, the title is accurate. This film is relentlessly suspenseful. As soon as it gets rolling, it grabs you by the neck and keeps a firm grip on your throat. It keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout its short, efficient runtime. The ferocious violence pairs well with the suspense, too. This is an extreme French movie, like Frontier(s) and Martyrs, so expect some extreme violence. Even the R-rated version can make you cringe. (If you want the full experience, go for the unrated version.) The only real issues stem from its ending. If it weren't for the ending, this would have easily been one of the best horror films of the 21st century.

The acting was good, too. Cécile de France performs well as the leading lady. The supporting cast was also good. I've watched the original and the dubbed version. The original is obviously better, much more authentic, but the dub isn't absolutely horrible. The film looks great, dark and gritty. The music was good, too. If you're a fan of practical gore effects, you'll love this film. The movie was written by Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur; Aja also directed. The direction is superb, creating a dark and violent horror film through atmosphere, suspense, and uncompromising violence. The writing was also good... until the last fifteen minutes or so. Without the twist, it wouldn't have been anything too special or unique, but it would have worked. With the twist, it riddles the rest of the film with unnecessary holes.

Overall, High Tension is a great film. If you love suspenseful and violent horror films, you'll love this movie. If you need everything to make sense and if you can't forgive a few plot holes, you will probably dislike it. I think it was a great addition to the New French Extremity movement. They just don't make 'em like this anymore...

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some sexuality.

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