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Michael_Elliott12 March 2008
Haute Tension (2003)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

French version

Two girls go out into the country and soon find themselves being stalked by a madman. The hype surrounding this French film was pretty high but I left with very mixed emotions. The film works as a throwback to the 1970's exploitation in the fact that it's very gritty, features some nudity, it's perverted and has all sorts of gore. All of this stuff is fine but when it comes to violence I think there's a very fine line that you can't cross and this film crosses that line way too many times. I enjoy horror films but if they cross that line I become a bit less interested. The violence is so strong and graphic that, to me, it takes away what's "fun" about a horror film. The tension works quite nicely throughout most of the film but I've always felt gore and scares don't mix and that's another problem. Every time things started to get tense we'd get some great gore effect that really took away the scares. The film is vile and repulsive, which is fine on one end but it doesn't mix too well with the other. I'd probably dislike the film even more had it not been for the good performances, great score and very good direction. There's so much that I loved with the film but there's also way too much stuff that I didn't care for. As for the ending, I don't buy the excuses made by some of the members at this very forum. I thought the ending tries way too hard to be a "great trick ending" that it shoots itself in the foot. I might enjoy the film more on a second viewing. I think it tries to go for scares ala The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but the gore really stands in the way, although the effects are great.
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bloody brutality
SnoopyStyle30 September 2016
Marie and Alex drive to spend a couple of days on Alex's parents' farm. Marie has a crush on her best friend Alex. Everybody is sleeping while Marie masturbates. Someone rings the doorbell. Alex's father answers the door and is killed. One by one, her family is slaughtered. Alex is chained up and taken. The phone is cut. Marie goes unnoticed by the killer and sneaks onto the truck.

This is bloody and violent. It's brutal once the blood starts splattering. Cécile de France has a great look. It's an ultra-violent French horror and fairly effective as a brutal blood fest. Then there comes the twist. This twist is getting a little tired and overused. It's not that well constructed in this case. The twist becomes something tacked on out of nowhere.
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Surprising Twist in an Excellent Horror Movie
claudio_carvalho12 April 2007
Alexia (Maiwenn) travels with her friend Marie (Cécile De France) 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, chasing the maniac and disclosing his identity in the end.

The beginning of "Haute Tension" is similar to other slash movies, with a sadistic murderer slashing the whole family including the little boy and the dog. The tense story is developed in an adequate pace and with great performance of Cécile De France, but while she was on the tail of the killer, I was thinking why the girl did not have patience to explain where she was while talking to the police officer in her phone call. However, after the surprising twist where the identity of the killer is disclosed, I found "Haute Tension" an excellent horror movie, with a brilliant screenplay, actually one of the best in the slash genre ever. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Alta Tensão" ("High Tension")
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French Film With an Unknown Director Takes World By Storm
gavin694217 May 2007
Two girls go to stay at one of the girl's parents' homes. But later that night, a serial rapist and killer breaks into the home to kill the family like he's done to many families before. But he doesn't know this new girl (Marie) is in the house... will she be able to get the jump on him?

Alexandre Aja is a name to watch. I saw "Hills Have Eyes" before I watched this, and it blew me away. I just had to see this earlier film, which came recommended to me from some of the most trusted people in my circle of horror buffs. Boy, was I not disappointed. If Aja keeps up his intensity from this film and from "Hills" in his future films, he's going to be one of the greats.

Many horror films center around strong female leads. This is called the "final girl" plot. But Marie is one of the strongest I've seen, not just avoiding death but always being right in the thick of it. "Tension" is the right title for this film -- I was on edge waiting to see how she would escape each conflict where she was literally under the killer's nose again and again.

The gore is respectable. It doesn't reach the levels of "Hills", but there's a really great blood spray scene involving a closet and there's an oral sex scene with a decapitated head. I think once you see that, it really sets the tone. I knew at that point this film had potential.

I enjoyed the very subtle lesbian vibe the film gave off. Well, maybe not subtle. But I was under the impression from the very beginning there was a lesbian vibe and I think this played out well. It becomes a little more clear towards the end, but keeping me and the audience guessing was a nice touch.

My only concern was with the ending, which I can't go into here. All I will say is that some will love it, some will hate it, and it may or may not make sense for everyone. I'm still left with some questions.

That concern aside, I loved this one. The gore, the women, the action, the suspense and the car chase scene (very well done). Aja takes what is best about horror and really pushes it to the absolute limit. Worth a second (and third) viewing beyond a doubt.
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A really gory and violent film with tension , grisly killings , plot twists and suspenseful
ma-cortes21 October 2021
Gory and thrilling film with bloody brutality , dealing with two friends Mary (Cecile de France) and Alesia (Maiwenn) going to a house of the latter where her parents live to spend some days . While taking a quiet weekend some terrible events start happenings resulting in violent and traumatic deaths . Love Hurts. Hearts will bleed . Someone is hunting everyone around her...

Creepy and scary movie with grisly murders , and lots of blood , gore and guts . As the title ¨Haute Tension¨ says , the tension is very hight including nail-biting scenes of pure terror , disgusting images , beheading , slashering in cold blood and other horrible events . It is a twisted film whose tension goes on in crescendo until a gruesome and surprising finale with plenty of twists and turns . The fim is well-paced with surprises , eerie suspense , and intrigue enough . Two protagonists , Cecile de France and Maiwenn ,give acceptable interpretations . Being accompanied by a support cast of French actors providing brief but decents performances from Philippe Nahon and Frank Khalfoun . The motion picture was well directed by Alexandre Bustillo . This French filmmaker is a good artisan who has made some nice and successful terror movies , as in France as in the US , such as : The Hills have Eyes , Mirrors , Furia , Horns , Piranaha , Crawl. Rating : 6.5/10 . Good terror movie .
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A (very) bloody rip-off.
BA_Harrison5 June 2010
For the first sixty minutes or so, Haute Tension is an uncompromising, brutal, nerve-shredding, edge-of-the-seat thriller—not surprising since virtually every one of those minutes is a blatant steal from Dean Koontz's brilliant, brutal, nerve-shredding, edge of the seat novel Intensity. Unfortunately, after the hour mark, director Alexandre Aja gradually steers his narrative away from Koontz's novel, presumably in a futile effort to disguise his plagiarism, and the film slowly falls apart, culminating in a ridiculous twist ending that makes a mockery of all that we have seen thus far.

For fans of Intensity, it's a particularly frustrating experience: not just because the Koontz receives absolutely no credit for his work, but also because Aja's handling of the author's material is so good. If only Aja had adapted the whole of Koontz's book (preferably with the author's approval), we might have had one of the greatest horror movies of all time; instead, we get an hour of absolutely stonking stuff (the opening home invasion, in particular, is flawlessly handled and amazingly gory), which are followed by twenty more minutes of reasonably solid cat-and-mouse action, and then that bloody awful finale.

For all the excellent stuff 'inspired' by Koontz, a rating of 9/10 seems fair; but for stealing the plot without giving the author credit and then having the nerve to tack on a dumb ending, I deduct three of those points, leaving the film a final score from me of 6/10. Worth a watch (especially for gore-hounds), but impossible to wholeheartedly endorse.
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It Turned Left at the Cornfield
wes-connors7 February 2010
Lesbian-tending Cecile de France (as Marie) gets herself invited to spend the weekend with straight pal Maiwenn Le Besco (as Alex), after the latter spends a sexually satisfying evening with a one-night male pick-up. The partying students are planning to study, though Ms. de France remains sexually frustrated. Sadly, Ms. Le Besco isn't tempted to go girl-on-girl with her friend. Instead, de France spies on Le Besco undressing to shower, and beds down to masturbate. Unfortunately, she is interrupted by an unexpected visitor. It's bloodthirsty serial killer Philippe Nahon (as Le tueur)!

One good thing you can say about this film, by director Alexandre Aja with Gregory Levasseur, is that you can watch it in any language (thus, the original French is preferred) and still understand everything there is to understand. Most of "Haute tension" needs no dialogue. That doesn't stop the last act from driving a crowbar through the heart of the story, however; the film suffers from implausible story developments. And, even if you accept the main plot turn, you've got to wonder about the filmmakers' thesis. Mr. Aja and his team will certainly satisfy your bloodlust, though.

**** Haute tension (6/18/03) Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur ~ Cecile de France, Maiwenn Le Besco, Philippe Nahon
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Voulez Vous Tuer Avec Moi?
Coventry16 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I vividly remember being there during the theater-release of this film in 2003, here in the French speaking part of Belgium, but it took another two years (until it was unleashed upon on the American market) before "Haute Tension" became the gigantic cult bomb it is today. Well, better late than never because, if there really is ONE recently released horror movie that deserves the full attention of every avid genre fan on this planet, it's Alexandre Aja's sensational breakthrough project. "Haute Tension" stands for pure horror and this is not an exaggeration for once! It's a simple yet effective story with loads of genuine suspense, sublime choreography and a lot of gory shock-moments that can easily be considered as classic already. The story starts off as any ordinary B-thriller, with female friends Marie and Alex driving towards the countryside to stay at Alex' parental house. No further playtime is wasted after this brief intro, as a nightly perpetrator gruesomely butchers the family members and kidnaps Alex in his ramshackle van. The murders in this film are so exceptionally brutal and graphic that every devoted horror fan will instantly add them to their list of favorites! We have a new & very inventive decapitation method, some grisly circular saw action, a genuinely unsettling axe-murder and more… For the first time since his legendary work for gore classics like "The Beyond", "Cannibal Apocalypse" and "House by the Cemetery", make-up artist Giannetto De Rossi was offered the opportunity to really go crazy again! The effects are convincing and very, VERY disturbing. And yet, those who fear that "Haute Tension" is exclusively about blood and guts can still enjoy "Haute Tension" too, since it features some masterfully mounted suspense sequences. The much-discussed ending is my only complaint, and then it's only a small complaint. Clearly influenced by the newest plotting trends in horror, Aja added an abrupt twist ending to his film that is rather hard to take serious. To me personally, this twist is unnecessary (yet still tolerable) and I already would have considered "Haute Tension" a success without it. Nonetheless…great stuff!!!
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Buckets of blood. A terrific scare.
michaelRokeefe21 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
HIGH TENSION lives up to its claim..."It will scare the hell out of you". This shocker is highly volatile with stark graphic violence. Not for the faint of heart. Alexa(Maiween Le Besco)and Marie(Cecile De France)are gal pals on holiday headed to Alexa's parent's cottage in the South of France. The two story home is in the middle of nowhere adjoining a large cornfield. One takes a shower; the other 'pleasures' herself and right when the middle of night approaches calm...a mysterious grimy killer drives up in a rust bucket and proceeds to slaughter Alexa's parents and little brother. Alexa is bound and gaged and kidnapped; Marie, who has managed to hide while being witness to the violence, goes through hell trying to rescue her friend. The atmosphere is frantic and guaranteed to lock up your knuckles and remind you of acidic 'up-chuck'. The twisting climax will challenge sanity. Before the HIGH TENSION violence begins; 'getting head' prompts a novel visual. Philippe Nahon personifies ruthless evil. HIGH TENSION is just that! Must-see horror.
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A Pretty Good French Film
sunwarrior1323 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The French film "Haute Tension" a.k.a "High Tension" provides a good movie that would require probably at least two viewing to have a better understanding of the story and a nice appreciation of the movie.This slasher story that was directed by Alexandre Aja stars Cécile de France,Maïwenn and Philippe Nahon.

The story involves a murders that are taking place in a French city that is committed by a serial killer.The victims that are killed are Alex's father,Alex's mother and a store keeper at a gas station.We also get to get to meet Marie,a lesbian who have great love for Alex.Violence predominates the story but nothing is what it seems.The final scene involves Alex looking over Marie over the window at a psychiatric hospital.

No question that this was an extremely violent movie.The violence shown in it was definitely awkward and to the extreme.Too bad that many viewers misjudged it as a bad film.Even the late movie critic Roger Ebert gave it a 1 out of 4 rating.To have a clear understanding of the film,a viewer just needs to be attentive to it to fully understand the story.Or better yet,watch it a couple of times to appreciate its filmmakers' creativity.
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French Filleting.
hitchcockthelegend12 November 2013
The debates and accusations towards Alexandre Aja's Haute tension (AKA: Switchbalde Roamnce) will never dissipate, that, particularly in the horror genre, is a given. Plagiarism charges and hostile bile vomited on the twist ending ensure it's a film unlikely to produce unity in horror circles.

Once viewed it's a picture that simply doesn't add up, thus it's a bit of a cheat, however, it's still a nail-biting experience as Marie (Cécile De France) attempts to rescue her best friend Alexia (Maïwenn) who has been kidnapped from the remote family farmhouse by a blood letting psychopath who has massacred Alexia's whole family.

Tale is unrelentingly grim and gruesome, pulsing with edgy atmosphere at every juncture. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, director Aja smartly letting the visceral shocks and palpable terror rule the roost. Production is stylish but not over glossy, so as to strip away the grainy feel of plotting, and the twin lead performances score favourably.

It could never hold up to a repeat viewing, that much is obvious, and "that" ending is understandably a cause for dissension, but it still has much to offer the slasher fan after a bit more than the usual teen stalk and slash trash. 7/10
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Moderately diverting.
Hey_Sweden1 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This viewer was told before watching this popular French horror film that it had a rather divisive nature - it will either work for the viewer or it won't. He also knew that the big twist ending was a real bone of contention for some people. With this information in hand, he was prepared to be open minded if not too hopeful. And what he got was a blood drenched homage to American slasher films that if nothing is watchable enough on a visceral level. Director Alexandre Aja strikes a respectable balance between sadistic violence and traditional suspense in this tale of two college age gals, Marie (Cecile De France) and Alexia (Maiwenn) who travel to the remote farmhouse residence of Alexias' family. Soon a brutal psychopathic killer comes knocking on the door, and from then on it's a night of terror for the ladies. One good thing is that the makeup effects, courtesy of Italian splatter master Giannetto De Rossi, provide plenty of punch and should make the audience laugh loud and often, in appreciation of what they see. This also takes place over the course of one day and night so there's no need to sit through boring scenes of filler - the action moves forward quite well. The real problem is that all of this just feels so familiar; we've all seen variations of this script before and this film doesn't truly bring much that's fresh to the party. Still, it may do the trick for undemanding genre fans. The acting is decent from the two leads, and Philippe Nahon has an effective presence as the smiling psycho. That leaves us with the aforementioned twist ending, which truthfully didn't bother this viewer too much. Overall, this is fairly energetic, stylish, and slick looking, and it manages to deliver some good moments as it plays out. Six out of 10.
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VERY graphic and grim but a GREAT horror film
preppy-324 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In France two college girls (Marie and Alexia) go to the Alexia's parents house--a secluded place in the middle of nowhere. They hope to rest and study there. Late that night a killer breaks in and violence and gore kick in...

Strong and graphic French horror film. The first half hour sets up the characters and the situation...after that the killing starts and the film never stops. There aren't that many killings in the film (only 5 and one isn't shown) but they are BLOODY!! Not just a little blood here and there...this film throws BUCKETS at the viewer. It's more than a little disturbing and this film has no humor in it. It has a grim, dark tone from the very beginning and never lets up. Even the music here is somber! It also throws in a twist ending that I never saw coming.

This is NOT for people who hate horror films (obviously). I saw the unrated French version (the US theatrical cut has one minute edited out). Avoid the dubbed version--it sounds terrible. The French version has subtitles and there really isn't a lot of dialogue in the film after the opening half hour.

DEFINITE SPOILER AHEAD!!!!!! The ending has been called homophobic. As a gay man I find that just ridiculous. If this situation happened to straight people it wouldn't be called heterophobic. Yes--the killer is crazy and a lesbian BUT that is needed at the ending. There isn't one homophobic remark made either. Some gay men and women just think every single gay character should be a positive figure which is just stupid...we need to see gay people as being good and evil--just like everybody else. We're not all saints. END OF SPOILER!!!!!!

So a must-see for horror fans, but be warned...this is strong stuff. Some of the violence bothered even me and that takes a lot!
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Starts good, ends crap...
poolandrews8 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Haute Tension, or either High Tension or Switchblade Romance as it's know to English speaking audiences, starts as two college friends Marie (Cecile De France) & Alexia (Maiwenn Le Besco) head to Alexia's parents house for the weekend. Marie is given the uppermost room in the large house & that night sees an old rusty van pull up outside & the guy inside gets out & rings the doorbell, Alexia's Father Daniel (Andrei Finti) answers the door & is brutally murdered. The killer then systematically slaughter's everyone else in the house except Marie who manages to hide & Alexia who the killer ties up & locks in the back of his van, however before he can drive off Marie sneaks into the van with the intention of saving Alexia before she becomes his next victim...

This French production was co-written & directed by Alexandre Aja & for the first 70 odd minutes Haute Tension is a top horror film but then Aja & co-writer Gregory Levasseur decide to ruin it by throwing in what must be the second worst twist ending I've ever seen, I mean what on Earth were they thinking? For those interested Breaking Dawn (2004) still has the worst twist I've seen though. The film starts out very promising with a scene of someone using a decapitated head to sexually please themselves & the wonderfully staged massacre of Alexia's family along with the ensuing cat & mouse game between Marie & the killer as in a way the tradition slasher film roles are reversed as Marie has to stalk him to an extent in an attempt to save her friend. I was really enjoying Haute Tension & thought it was quite fresh & very effective, at this point the film was on for an 8 out of 10 from me but then that ending spoiled it big time & frankly I think I'm being generous by still giving it a 4. Basically the truly awful twist killed the entire film for me, I thought it ruined everything that had gone before & turned what was up to that point a nice exercise in savage cinema into a complete mess. Haute Tension uses the same split personality twist used so effectively in the brilliant Fight Club (1999) although here it feels like an afterthought & makes absolutely no sense within the context of the rest of the film, how can someone have a fight with themselves? Where did the old van come from when Marie & Alexia clearly drive together in a Citreon? Why kill the gas station attendant? In fact almost everything that has gone before in Haute Tension seems like a contradiction, the scene at the start with the killer & decapitated head now is totally meaningless & the filmmakers just don't get the whole point-of-view thing & it just doesn't work with the rest of the film. Neither was I convinced by the killers motives, oh that's right they aren't really given any so that's probably why...

Director Aja does a great job with the violence, the tension, atmosphere & it's a pretty stylish film all round. It's a very tense film with some great sequences but what's the point with that ending where everything good the film had managed to build up is lost, honestly. Like a lot of these muddled 'cult' type films there are plenty of internet message board activity about the ending with lots of people trying to explain in minute detail everything, personally I think life is too short to worry about a stupid nonsensical film such as Haute Tension, there are better things to do. To it's credit there's some top gore here, there's one of the best slit throats your likely to see, there's a decapitation, a severed hand, someone is sliced up with a cement saw, someone is axed to death & there are large helpings of blood splattered all over the shop.

With a supposed budget of about $430,000 the makers of Haute Tension didn't have much to work with & they do wonders, to it's credit it's very well made with a definite slickness, it's just a shame about the end. Shot in French it's hard to know how everyone acts but they all seem to scream & cry in the right places so I'll assume it's decent.

Haute Tension is top-notch for 70 odd minutes & complete total & utter crap for the remaining 20 odd that ruins everything that has gone before, a real disappointment considering how well it had started. It's a difficult one to call as I'm sure there are people out there who will love it but overall it's not a film I look back on with any fondness apart from one of the coolest slit throats in cinematic history, the choice is yours.
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Why has this attracted so much attention when ultimately it isn't that great
dbborroughs14 November 2004
A French entry in the slasher genre, Haute Tension or High Tension, tells the story of friends who travel from Paris to the familial home. Once there a crazed man shows up and begins to slaughter everyone.

I've been reading about this movie for a while and it seems that people either love it or hate it. The debate seemed to be so passionate on both sides that I put aside my dislike for slasher films and gave it a shot.

Well made, this film looks good. It looks to be more than your run of the mill mad slasher film. The film is also very well acted. The actors and actresses actually turn in something more than the typical phone in performances of the genre and become real people.

Frankly this film has a good deal going for it, and yet it ultimately remains a slightly better than normal slasher flick, but a normal slasher film none the less. Even with a hint of lesbianism and a few nice twists added to the mix, its not much different than many other films.

This isn't to say that its a bad film, its not. Its a decent little thriller, but its not the be all and end all that some people have labeled it. While it maybe a step above the run of the mill, its promotion around the world leaves me bewildered since there are many other films more deserving.

Still if you want to see a good slasher film try this.

6 out of 10. (Probably should be higher but I'm not a genre fan)
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You can't escape from me, bitch!
lastliberal10 November 2007
High tension is a perfect name for Alexandre Aja's (The Hills Have Eyes, P2) film. After what seemed like a slow start, the tension picked up to were I was strung wire tight, as was Cécile De France (The Spanish Apartment).

Philippe Nahon was a creepy killer who spilled copious amounts of blood (hence an NC-17 rating). We spend countless minutes just walking on our tippy toes with Marie (Cécile) as she tries to stay alive and save her friend Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco).

But, what is this? A bizarre switch on us? I am not sure why they did this. Lots more blood, buckets of it, and a weird ending. I am still not sure what happened. I loved that saw!
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If you're looking for a movie that will make you scream and wet your pants at the same time, look no farther than "High Tension."
zardoz-1321 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Scary films—like nightmares—shun logic. After all, what else would you expect from movies about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, mutated creatures, and sadistic maniacs? Searching for logic in a scary movie is like skinny dipping in quicksand. If the vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, creatures, and madmen defy logic, their victims fare no better. Folks in horror movies behave foolishly. When they confront horror, they freeze in their footsteps and belt out a blood-curdling screams. Or they flee in the wrong direction, fall down, and sprain an ankle. Even if the girl doesn't sprain her ankle, she will run in a circle and collide with the villain. If the victims reach their car, they must crank up their jalopy repeatedly before the engine finally turns over, just as the monster or killer looms large in their rearview mirror. Indeed, the only reason that the engine doesn't fire-up the first time out is that it would make it too easy for the victims to escape. Alas, horror movie villains are as unreal as they are undead, and their victims qualify as the least resourceful humans on earth. Now, keeping this in mind, do you watch scary movies to see the victims apply cold, hard logic to an illogical crisis while keeping a cool head under pressure? Anybody that goes to horror movies hoping that the villain will be realistic or that the victims won't do idiotic things clearly doesn't know much about horror movies and life-in-general. Some moviegoers love to berate the victims for their crazy behavior. If you saw a vampire, werewolf, zombie, mutated creature, or homicidal maniac, you'd probably freeze-up and howl, too. If logic has no place in horror movies, neither does realism. People ridicule creature-features routinely because Godzilla doesn't look like the genuine article. Has anybody seen a radioactive prehistoric monster? Werewolves aren't real, so how can they look genuine? Basically, criticizing horror movies for lapses in logic or lack of realism makes no sense. Criticizing horror movies as a type of movie makes better sense, and people who hate horror movies have no right to single out horror movies that abuse logic and defy realism. The new French horror movie "High Tension" (***1/2 out of ****) definitely gives both logic and realism the axe. As the best and bloodiest horror chiller since "Saw," "High Tension" qualifies as a ghastly valentine for gorehounds. First, "High Tension" narrowly avoided an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, but the MPAA must have been in a generous mood when they gave this nerve-jangler an R-rating. You'll see more blood and gore on display here than those recent remakes of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "House of Wax," or nail-biters like "Bogyman." Second, director Alexandre Aja doesn't waste time with a lot of cheap false alarms to make the hair rise on the back of our necks. He is too busy showing a homicidal maniac killing people to indulge in those moments designed to make you jump when he can plunge you up to your neck into a blood-soaked situation. Just for the record, don't see this movie if you are the squeamish. "High Tension" will scare the puke out of you. Aja doesn't pull any punches when it comes to depicting violence. The scene where the maniac breaks out a huge buzz saw that resembles something firefighters wield to free people trapped in cars illustrates this idea. The villain approaches a stalled-out car that his victim has flagged down on a deserted road. As the driver frantically cranks the vehicle, the maniac smashes the windshield then mangles the driver with this hideous weapon, turning the interior of the car into a bloodbath. In some horror circles, gorehounds call these movies splatter movies instead of slasher movies. Actually, "High Tension" combines slasher with splatter for a bloodbath of a life-time. Plot wise, "High Tension" concerns two female college students in contemporary France who spend a weekend in the country to catch up on their school work. Marie (Cecile De France of "Around the World in 80 Days") and Alex (Maiween Le Besco of "The Fifth Element") cruise into remote Southern France where Alex's family live on an isolated farm house. No sooner has everybody turned in for the evening than a homicidal madman (Philippe Nahon of "Irreversible") barges into their house. This one-man home invasion army slashes the father, jams his head in the rails of the staircase, and decapitates the breadwinner with a piece of furniture. This madman opens the wife's throat from ear to ear like a watermelon and pursues the little boy into a cornfield with a shotgun. He shackles poor Alex in chains, gags her, and prowls the rest of the house in vain to find anybody else. Miraculously, Marie avoids detection in scenes of heart-stopping suspense. The maniac tools around in a rusty old truck like the monster drove in the "Jeepers Creepers" movies and sticks Alex in the back. At the last second, unbeknownst to the killer, Marie scrambles aboard with Alex. Marie resolves to save her best friend. Before it's all over with, "High Tension" evokes chilling memories of the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Compared with "Friday the Thirteen's" Jason or "Halloween's" Michael Myers, the maniac her make them look like pansies. Although the first hour or so of "High Tension" is a brutally straight-forward exercise in stomach-churning terror, the last half-hour takes a bizarre 180 degree spin reminiscent of the Brad Pitt movie "Fight Club." Already, Aja has been tapped to helm the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes." If you're looking for a movie that will make you scream and wet your pants at the same time, look no farther than "High Tension."
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Echoes of Craven but Shymalan twist will have many angrily shaking their heads "WHY?!"
george.schmidt13 June 2005
HIGH TENSION (2005) **1/2 Cecile De France, Maiwenn Le Besco, Philippe Nahon. French thriller about two college student girlfriends who face a nightmare in a secluded family farmhouse when a psychopath goes on a slaughtering spree that echoes early Wes Craven and grindhouse Grand Guignol a la "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" with high style and dread menace that works on all cylinders until the rug-pulled-out 'twist' that has shadings of "Identity" and a poorly conceived M. Night Shymalan 'audience gotcha' that will leave many shaking their heads in utter disdain of being 'tricked'; count this viewer who was thrilled until the last ten minutes of this well-produced (except for the hilariously atrocious dubbing; subtitles damn it!!!) genre let down. (Dir: Alexandre Aja)
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Horrific suspense
neil-47611 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A brief trawl round the comments on the film variously known as Haute Tension and Switchblade Romance make two things obvious - one, it is common ground that the large part of the movie is horrifically violent and filled with screaming suspense and, two, the finale polarises opinion: some rate it highly, others feel that the twist spoils what has gone before.

I am going to discuss the twist, so at this point some serious spoilering comes into play.

It turns out that Marie, the girl who has been hiding from the slaughtering maniac and trying to save her friend Alexia, is in fact the delusional murderer. The complaint that this results in plot holes is, I think, an unfair one. What it means is that everything which has gone before is as seen through the filter of Marie's delusion so, effectively, all previous bets are off. There is no plot for there to be holes in - we are now seeing Marie's delusion entering its end game.

My complaint about the ending is different. I was perfectly happy with the plot twist and the effect it had on what had gone before. But while the earlier part of the movie had been full of dread and creepiness, suddenly the end exploded into an almost over-the-top spoofiness, and it was this which I felt went some way towards undermining the good work which had come before.

For all that, this is a terrific exercise in fear.
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In Pursuit of a Killer
view_and_review6 July 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"High Tension" could've been and would've been better if it didn't go the dual personality route. The whole movie we were led to believe that a strange man (Philippe Nahon) came to Alex's family's house and killed them all. We were led to believe that Marie (Cecile de France) was able to hide from the killer and then pursue the killer who'd kidnapped Marie's friend Alexia (Maiwenn). Then, when the movie was about to conclude we found out that Marie was the killer the whole time and she only imagined (or was taken over by) the other personality. That would've been a nice twist except:

A.) I've seen that twist too often ("Fight Club" did it best).

B.) It was hard to reconcile what really happened with how Marie imagined it.

Marie saw another man, she hid from this man, she ran from this man, she pursued this man in a totally different vehicle, she fought him and presumably killed him. I can stretch my imagination and reconcile much of it, but I can't reconcile the two different vehicles. How could she have been driving the Jeepers Creepers truck with Alex in the back as well as the yellow sports car (unless the yellow sports car didn't exist)?

"High Tension" was a decent movie, but it would've been better if it had honestly stuck to the thread it was on: a determined woman pursuing a kidnapper/killer to rescue her best friend. Not to say that the dual personality angle wasn't good, it was actually quite cool because who'd expect a woman to be a crazed homicidal maniac, but the execution wasn't the best.
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A tad overrated, but still a good movie
kannibalcorpsegrinder8 October 2016
Heading out into the countryside, a woman visiting her family with a friend finds that a vicious serial killer has targeted the house and begun killing them off one-by-one forcing them to find a way of fighting the killer and stopping him from continuing his rampage.

This here proved to be quite the fun and highly enjoyable slasher effort. One of the most impressive things about the film is the way it engages all the senses, especially sound, to create a mood of mounting dread and suspense. It's all about being haunted by the squeaks of the killer's shoes on the floor, the labored breathing as he walks up the stairs, or the dull sound his bloodied scalpel makes when he wipes it off on his overalls that play just as important role in this as anything else in the film, and it works absolutely marvelously. The first half of the film is as good as anything out there, being this mounting of suspense through an ingenious use of having the characters survive the slaughter through the house and staying just out eye- view from the killer as every suspense trick is used with hiding in the room where the killer lurks, covering their tracks, and really depending on the presence of the killer there to get most of the suspense out of the film that really work and are quite powerful. That plays into the fact that this is an incredibly gory film offer a slew of highly-violent and vicious bloodletting that's all the better that all of the gore was practical and CGI is nowhere to be seen. The ending does have a lot going for it as well, including a really impressive car chase that ends in a really nice stunt, tons of gore inflicted on all the participants, some incredibly clever stalking scenes and just a relentless pace. Then there's the ending, which while it isn't the best one ever done is really clever and nicely used throughout one that does leave a lasting mark. All in all, this wasn't that bad. Frankly, there's only one thing in here that really doesn't work, and that's the twist ending. In the attempt to blow the mind with the mega-twist that re-writes the logic of all that came before, all that is achieved instead is that it completely evaporates the plausibility of all that did come before it. This brings about so many questions that go unanswered simply by the way it goes about including the twist simply to ensure a successful unimagined twist, as there's that phone call at the gas station getting made, how the car crash happened or what the gas-station attendant was looking at being just several of the unanswered and utterly confusing questions this leaves. Even the little things require that the viewer rewrite the plot as they see fit. That there is the reason why this doesn't work, which isn't that it's a badly done twist, just an illogical one. It's the only issue with this one holding it back.

Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Brief Nudity, a mild masturbation scene and children-in-jeopardy.
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Gore-hounds rejoice
movieman_kev10 April 2004
The second film I saw at the Philly Film Fest was this shocking slasher. Marie and Alex go to Alex's parent's secluded county home. A sadistic serial killer is waiting in the wings. I'm conflicted on this film more then most. On one hand THIS IS balls to the wall, take no prisoners horror with a capital H and it was the first movie in decades to make my literally jump out of my seat at one point. For that i LOVE it. On the other hand, there is that TWIST. For that I HATED it (Granted only for a little while, before i remembered how much i loved what went on prior). Gore-hounds will be in their own little heaven with this nasty number.

My Grade: A-
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A rush of adrenaline
The_Void7 February 2005
The title of this marvellous French horror thriller translates directly into English as 'High Tension', and as anyone who's seen it will tell you; it's an apt title. Simply put, Switchblade Romance (to give it English release, and better, title) is a pure adrenaline rush throughout. The film forsakes substance in favour of masses of tension and the result is a film that is guaranteed to get your heart racing. The fact that the film features numerous sequences of extreme gore doesn't exactly hinder it either. There has been a surge of good, inventive horror coming from overseas and independent studios recently; the likes of May, Dog Soldiers and Sleepless being among the best of them, and Switchblade Romance sits nicely alongside the cream of the recent crop. This film follows two friends, Alex and Marie who go to stay with Alex's parents in their country home. However, things go awry when a man breaks into the home and brutally murders the family. We then follow Alex and Marie through a roller coaster ride of tension and suspense as they try their best not get sliced and diced!

The film is very stylishly shot, and this has lead many to label it a 'Giallo'. This is most certainly not true, and there isn't much other than the style of the movie to suggest this. Switchblade Romance is more of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre style horror driven slasher than a Giallo; the film clearly knows this also, with a direct homage to the seventies classic towards it's climax. The amount of gore on display is impressive, and several scenes are certainly not for the feint-hearted. There's quite an array of weaponry in the film also, from the plain and simple switchblade, to much more exciting weapons like barbed wire, various guns, an axe and, my personal favourite, the chainsaw! In fact, I am pleased to report that Switchblade Romance features what is maybe the most brutal chainsaw scene ever! Aside from the weapons and gore, this film is also of note for it's music. The original score sets just the right tone for the goings on - it's atmospheric, but steady and almost like a lullaby, which fits with the film's style nicely. Switchblade Romance also features one of the best uses of original music of recent years, with a great scene that incorporates Muse's "New Born".

Switchblade Romance is pure style, and a complete adrenaline rush. Tension isn't in the film, it IS the film. In spite of it's lack of substance, this movie will have you on the edge of your seat and begging for more. Add that to some lovely music, classy acting and enough gore to fill an abattoir - and what you've got is the makings of a cult classic!
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"I Won't Let Anyone Come Between Us Anymore!"...
azathothpwiggins20 August 2019
HIGH TENSION is the breakthrough film from Director Alexandre Aja about a young college student named Marie (Cecile de France), who travels to the home of her friend, Alexia's (Maiwenn) family. The two are there to study. However, studying might not be possible, since a sinister presence is lurking nearby in the form of a deranged killer (Philippe Nahon).

In a very short time, frantic terror explodes, resulting in death, and sending everything into overdrive. Marie finds herself on the run from the malevolent maniac, who seems almost superhuman or supernatural. Marie's ensuing odyssey is one of sheer, unhinged panic and mayhem!

This is an incredible, jolting horror film with almost non-stop shocks and thrills! The controversial, jaw-dropping finale turns everything inside out! As unexpected as it is, there are clues throughout the film. Though the first viewing is the most exhilarating, subsequent viewings are quite revealing...
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A Nutshell Review: High Tension
DICK STEEL22 October 2005
This film has finally made its way to our shores, uncut. For a slasher flick, it's bloody good, pun intended. If you've read me enough, you know that I'm a sucker for revenge films and zombie flicks. The occasional slasher flick appeals to me too, and this one doesn't disappoint, in the delivery of the material that is.

Two friends Marie (a very buff Cécile De France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) spend the weekend in the latter's farm home, to keep away from distractions to study for their exams. We are briefly introduced to the family members of Alex - the parents, the toddler brother and the family St Bernard, before the horror starts to set in the very same night.

As with slasher flicks, there would always be the lumbering and unstoppable psycho killer. In this film, it's a huge unkempt man in baseball cap and dirty overalls, armed with only a switchblade, bulldozing his way into the family home and slaughtering everyone in sight. We share in Marie's fear and attempts to conceal herself, which makes you wonder, in desperate moments like these life and death situations, what will you really do? The confusion and fear makes it all easy for Marie to think selfishly, but I suppose it's only human nature, and what more can you do, really? In playing cat-and-mouse with the killer, we see the decapitations of various forms, stabs, creative use of improvised weapons, all soaked in tons of blood. If the film was edited, then a lot would have been lost, especially the impact of such senseless violence on defenseless persons. If one should compare with the recent release Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, the latter would be a leisurely stroll in the park in the violence and gore department. Perhaps it's closest cousin might be The Devil's Rejects.

Cécile De France shines in her role, as many in the audience could feel her fear, desperation, and new found courage. The film easily relied on her to pull the movie through its highly disturbing material.

The filmmakers could have left this as it was - brutal, senseless killings (hey, slasher flick, remember?), but in trying to have a one-up in making this a more psychological film with the slight twist at the end, somehow exposed a lot of gaping loopholes in the narrative storyline in retrospect.

So be forewarned, this film is not for the squeamish and faint at heart. It's bloody brutal, the way slasher films are made out to be, and make no apologies for.
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