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Alexia travels with her friend Marie to spend a couple of days with her family in their farm in the country. They arrive late and they are welcomed by Alexia's father. Late in the night, a sadistic and sick killer breaks into the farmhouse, slaughters Alexia's family--including their dog--and kidnaps Alexia. Marie hides from the criminal and tries to help the hysterical and frightened Alexia, chase the maniac, and disclose his identity in the end. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
This film seems to me to lack balance between the combination of elements that it blends together: the thriller-suspense factor, the gore, and the "surprise" factor. It is a very irregular film, but it still boasts good style and good manners in atmosphere-building, even if it doesn't really live up to meet the expectations, at least for me.
The story goes about Marie and Alexia, best friends who drive up to Alexia's parents' countryside house, hoping to find some peace for studying. Instead, they'll have to fight a psychopathic killer in a macabre cat-and-mouse game.
The best part, in my opinion, is the mise-en-scene and the introduction of the characters and the storyline. Everything in those first sequences tells us that something horrible is going to happen, not only because we already know that we're watching a horror film. The dusty road, the scorching weather, the big corn fields... the real feel of a horror story scene is there. It increases with the night scenes, the shots of the house, the staircase, the corridors. The gloominess and inherent darkness of the place and the quiet surroundings perfectly do their job of preparing us for what's to come.
The story-telling loses steam after this part. Not being a big fan of gore, I didn't really care for the bloody murder scenes, but I'm sure that they'll be appreciated by many -they're rather truculent and well filmed. The duel between Marie and the killer didn't really work for me; in fact, I found it a little boring. On the whole, I thought the story was unoriginal and predictable, but, contrary to what many say, I don't think it's deceitful -I didn't feel that the director cheats on the audience with the ending. (I won't elaborate on this so as not to spoil the film for those who want to see it).
I have mixed feelings about "High Tension". On the one hand, for me, it is ineffective as a thriller, and flawed as an exercise of story-telling. On the other, however, the murky atmosphere and the darkness of the story and of its subtleties stuck with me for a while after seeing the film. I wouldn't watch it again, but I understand why many like it so much.
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