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A waste of time
druid325 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Despite all the nice things that people have to say about this film, the "plot twist" in it makes it an utter waste of time.

Spoilers follow, although I doubt I can spoil the movie any more than the director already did. Although I doubt it makes a difference because my complaint has to do broadly with the plot of this film, my review is based off the US theatrical release.

It starts off as a fairly standard chainsaw massacre type of flick, which to be completely honest, has never been my favorite genre, and ends as something I didn't think existed: a slasher flick with a plot so awful that it loses any value it may have had as a simple gore fest. It turns out that the main character has multiple personalities and is also the killer, or something to that effect. It's very hard to say exactly what happened in the movie because after that revelation, it is obvious that 99% of the movie must be dismissed as nonsensical.

If this trite twist is done in a clever way, it can make piecing together the plot preceding the revelation an interesting endeavor, but this movie didn't bother with being clever. The main character would have to be in two different places at the same time in the film so many times that there is no point in trying to put it all together. There is a car chase with vehicles driven by different aspects of the personality; one aspect rides to a remote house with her friend, the other drives a souped up murder wagon there. Obvious holes such as one personality getting an injury which persists through the remainder of the film in a car wreck which wouldn't have happened if she were actually in the other unwrecked vehicle the whole time, plague this film.

This is laziest attempt of a director springing a twist on the audience that I have seen. Picture some dimwit introducing their self to you as Chuck, having a conversation with you, then proudly revealing their name is actually Aja and that they really outsmarted you. Yeah, quite a zinger there, Aja. When the rest of a movie becomes completely nonsensical due to the addition of a plot twist, perhaps that twist could have been left out.

The film looks as though they decided to appeal to the psychological thriller market ( a genre where this sort of stunt is painfully common) so they filmed an extra scene or two and tossed it in to let the audience sort it out. It's obvious the director didn't try.

In the end, nothing fits together. The events as depicted in the movie obviously didn't happen the way they were shown to the audience. What did happen? Did anything actually happen or was it a psychopath's delusion? What was the point? A film that leaves itself open to interpretation is not a bad thing in itself, but in this case the audience has nothing to interpret because they are given nothing to work with and there is little incentive to bother.
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Irregular but intriguing
Agnelin16 July 2006
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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Hearts will bleed...
RainWeirdo22 June 2005
...and so will faces, slashed throats, dismembered hands, decapitated heads, backs, arms, feet, stomachs, chests... In fact, just about everything that can bleed does bleed in this movie, and does so copiously.

High Tension, aka Switchblade Romance (much better title) is the best horror movie I've seen come out in theaters in years. After so many times hearing "this is the movie horror fans have been waiting for" and then being horribly disappointed by Cabin Fever, The Ring, Malevolence, Darkness, The Grudge, and every single other one, I am throwing my full weight behind this one. Switchblade Romance is the movie real horror movie fans have been waiting for. It's a bloody, merciless, no-humor and no-holds-barred homage to the classic slasher pics of the 70s, and yet it surpasses almost every movie it draws its inspiration from. We get an unstoppable but definitely human killer, far more interesting than, say, Jason or what Michael Myers has now become because of his obviously being human and because he makes some undeniably smart decisions and operates in a continuously logical, inescapable way. The arsenal on display is impressive, as it should be in any decent slasher movie. We get the basic straight razor, the butcher knife, shotgun, axe, and, in an incredible and deliciously violent nod to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the power buzzsaw.

Every aspect of this film is in place. The plot is simple and straightforward, the acting, even dubbed, is interesting (and despite complaints of why only parts of it were dubbed, if you watch closely and pay attention to who speaks French and who is dubbed, it actually makes perfect sense and fits with the movie), the cinematography is strangely artistic, almost gialli-like, the bloodletting stylish and gruesome, the sound design incredible, the tension almost unwavering. The initial horror set piece, the arrival of the killer and the slaughter in the house, is bound to become a well-remembered and oft referenced classic scene of horror. The sheer brutality and stark reality of it ranks it up there, in my mind, with the gut wrenching finale of "Odishon." A quick word on the performances. There's minimal dialogue, but what there is is at least two steps up from most horror films. Its meant to build character, whereas most slasher flick dialogue is there just to drive the plot. Here, we care about the characters, even those who don't get much of a chance to talk, because the situation is so much more real than your average flick and so is the acting. Cecile de France's physical performance is stunning, the fear on her face, the tension in every limb, the breath rate, the pain, everything, and the sheer madness that Maiwenn's character endures is perfectly conveyed by the utter despair she is able to convey even with a gag in her mouth most of the time.

An, of course, a quick word on the ending. Quit complaining! The ending of this movie is great, not only does it take an extremely well made but somewhat shallow gore pic to a whole new level with some interesting things to say about... well, I won't say on account of not spoiling it, but yes, it actually does make sense if you've watched the movie carefully and have enough intellect to think about it on your own rather than just taking at face value what you've seen. I halfway wonder if the twist wasn't in part a snobby French joke Aja decided to play to see if we lulled, summer blockbuster-fed Americans could figure it out and realize that everything works without being spoon-fed exactly how it works.

8 / 10 - which makes it twice as good as the next best horror movie to come out in theatres in a decade. The only thing that keeps it from attaining a perfect 10 is that, although the tension is cranked up high for most of it and the scares are a thing that will haunt you more after walking out of the movie than when you're watching, the suspense does kind of flag unexpectedly in a few key places. Still, given the other 80% of the movie is extremely suspenseful and effectively brutal, this is a small flaw. If you like horror movies, GO SEE IT.
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A very stylish, tense film, truly a suspense-thriller-horror
Richard Brunton3 May 2005
Oh my god. Without a doubt I have not been affected by a movie this much since watching the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was well under age and the movie was certainly more than dodgy. I couldn't sleep after watching that and was very uneasy, multiplied a gazillion times by the imagination of a kid. This certainly had a similar affect on me, it scared me and horrified me, it even surprised me more than any other movie has of late.

If you have any preconception about foreign cinema being weaker to Hollywood then you have hardly spent enough time watching foreign cinema and too much time engrossed in poor romantic flicks with Clooney et al. You really need to get out and grab some of that Japanese, Spanish and French cinema action. It's easily had and there's a lot to it, far better movies...anyway, I find myself digressing again.

From the outset this movie pitches itself as a hard horror, it isn't going to pull any punches and it's going to show you like it is, harrowing and horrific. That said, the story then turns to a slower pace and you find that it's mixing the suspenseful thriller in with the moments of full on horror, and it's done so well. Too well in fact, and watching the psychotic at work is sometimes shocking.

It rides a fine line between schlock horror and suspense horror, it manages to combine the two without falling into a complete gore flick. It is gory mind you, very gory. I was eating a couple of biscuits during the movie and I stopped until it was finished, even then I wasn't sure.

That's where this movies strength lies, it really pushes the boundaries of between those two types of movies but keeps its feet firmly in the suspense, and tension area. The film is exceedingly tense, and it's raised slowly to begin with, but creeps up at every set piece, and it's not long before the shocking and surprising final set piece is upon you. That in itself is terrifying, and as it unfolded on me I was stunned.

Part of me thinks that this movie could have done much better without all the horror, but I'm not sure that the film would have carried on the tension and suspense alone, it's the very presence of the horror that adds to and heightens the pressure.

A very stylish, tense film, truly a suspense-thriller-horror to be proud of from the French. Please Hollywood, don't remake it.
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Uncompromising shocker, NOT for the faint of heart!!
Libretio6 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers

(USA: High Tension /UK: Switchblade Romance)

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Sound formats: Dolby Digital Surround EX / DTS

After witnessing the massacre of an entire family at their isolated country home, a young student (Cécile de France) goes in pursuit of a depraved psychopath (Philippe Nahon) who has taken her friend (Maïwenn Le Besco) hostage.

The real deal. A return to the bleak intensity of 1970's/80's horror by a director (Alexandre Aja) clearly in love with the genre. As such, it's no surprise to find Italian makeup maestro Giannetto de Rossi (ZOMBI 2, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, etc.) credited in the opening titles, and his work - allied to Aja's ultra-realistic approach to the material - is among the best of de Rossi's career. One of the most frightening movies to emerge from Europe - or anywhere else, for that matter - in recent memory, HAUTE TENSION pits a terrified heroine (de France, giving an unrestrained, highly physical performance) against an unstoppable force of nature (Nahon) who proceeds to steal her innocence clean away. Set amongst the splendors of rural France, Aja's film uses the wide open spaces to generate foreboding from the outset (beautiful cinematography by Maxime Alexandre), and his use of music and ambient sound is masterful. Once the violence erupts in earnest - about twenty minutes into the picture - Aja cuts dialogue down to an absolute minimum and strikes a level of intensity that few horror films have achieved in recent years, and the pace remains frantic throughout. De Rossi's gore effects are explicit and plentiful, but the director balances these outrageous visuals with a series of poignant brushstrokes (eg. a dying victim pleading not for help, but for an explanation of the tragedy which has befallen her), adding small touches of human warmth to an otherwise fierce brew.

Some people have complained about a climactic 'turnaround' which appears to come out of left-field, but their protests are groundless. In fact, this jaw-dropping sleight-of-hand is entirely in keeping with the director's off-kilter intentions, and most viewers will relish an opportunity to dissect the narrative on second viewing, where various 'contrivances' and 'lapses in logic' are revealed as nothing of the kind. Aja and co-scriptwriter Grégory Levasseur aren't interested in mollycoddling the audience or leavening the material with wisecracks and 'post-modern' references to genre movies past and present; they simply want to scare the hell out of you, and in that, they have succeeded magnificently. HAUTE TENSION is an instant classic, deserving of every accolade. An uncredited Luc Besson (THE BIG BLUE, LEON, etc.) acted as co-producer on the film.

(French dialogue)
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High Tension
gjung0119 June 2004
"Haute Tension" is one of the best horror films I have seen in years. It is appropriately gruesome and shocking and does not take the wise cracking, action movie based horror movie approach that so many recent horror films have taken. The film is well made and paced and builds up the suspense to a crescendo and does not overstay it's welcome. One would have found it unusual for French cinema to be the one to revitalize the horror genre which has become hackneyed and trite in Hollywood (so many want to refer to it as psychological thriller). The story follows 2 college co-eds visiting the homestead of one of the girl's family on a school break. A mysterious man in a mechanic jumpsuit and old truck (reminiscient of the one in "Jeepers Creepers")comes to the house in the night and brutally murders the family, kidnaps the girl and overlooks her friend who has to pursue the killer to rescue her friend. Director, Alexander Aja, does not make a pedestrian, light weight horror film and the deaths in the film are disturbing and brutal. There is no humor or comic relief and the blood literally soaks the camera lens. The sense of dread and the unrelenting suspense and pace makes this a refreshing breath of fresh air from all of the PG-13 rated "Scream" wannabes that have been hitting the multi-plexes. Wes Craven had reportedly seen "Haute Tension" at Sundance and has hand picked Alexander Aja to remake "The Hills Have Eyes" and have free artistic licence since Craven had pegged him as the "future of horror." There is even a plot twist which you will either love or hate but it fits in well with the film. The performances by Cecile de France, Maewenn and the actor who portrays the killer are perfect. All in all, this is a French film that deserves to be seen in American multiplexes and a must see for horror movie fans the world over who have been having to settle for mediocre horror for many years now.
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Craven and Hooper would be proud, unfortunately, so would Shyamalan.
Dan Grant18 October 2005
The 70's and 80's produced what I consider to be the best horror films ever made. There were more independent films being made 20 and 30 years ago and that led to less studio intervention. I seriously doubt Sam Raimi could have made his classic gore fest THE EVIL DEAD if The Weinsteins were behind the scenes. And I know for a fact that Tobe Hooper would never have gotten away with what he did to make Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE as shock inducing as he did. And finally, what I consider is the most disturbing film ever made, never would have been made if guys like Michael Ovitz were behind it. Could you imagine if Ovitz was visiting the set of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, took a look at the dailies and then said, "okay, that intestine part has to go, the slapping of the naked girls has to be trimmed down and the fellatio part has to be edited." Last House would not be the classic that it is today and it certainly would not be a paradigm to all horror films that many aspire to make today.

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.
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Bloody, intense, psychological terror. A classic film.
jay-dobrow17 October 2005
There should not be any surprise why Wes Craven chose Alexandre Aja to direct the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes". Aja's "High Tension" delivers what could be the most terrifying scenario in horror history since "The Last House on The Left". Two young women travel to a dreary looking farmhouse to study for important school exams. That same night, as soon as the doorbell rings, the madness strikes, and it strikes hard. The killer in this film holds nothing back, and it will feel as if you had been struck in the stomach by a 2x4. The flick will not let you go until the last fearful scene is over. Highly recommended for serious horror filmmakers.
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When Tired Ideas Go Bad
fortey29 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This will contain spoilers not just for this movie, but Fight Club too.

To this film's credit it has some decent atmosphere and once in a while lives up to its title. However, everything that is wrong here far outweighs the good.

On a simplistic level, the language is ridiculous here. Boy-like Marie and her horse-faced friend Alex are off in the country and dubbed horribly into English. But only sometimes. Randomly, some of the movie is in French, which I guess is to give the impression some people really are French and some aren't? Or not. I have no idea, but it doesn't matter. By the time you hear Marie yell "Alex" for the millionth time you'll probably wish the whole thing was dubbed.

The people in the film may as well be replaced with robots that have processors working on about 64K of programming for all the diversity they're showing. I guess they have human emotions, probably, but only insofar as I assume that about everyone human. In this movie, everyone picked 2 emotions out of a sack and had to stick with them for the whole movie.

I have heard people call this movie brilliant and perhaps they did so with a straight face. I have also heard the director valiantly try to explain every one of the incalculable plot holes in the movie. And his explanation works with one caveat. Foe those not in the know, this movie gives us a rehash of a familiar idea, a multiple personality disorder. When the twist is revealed anyone with an ounce of sense will start to question how on Earth it's even remotely possible. And honestly it isn't unless you accept the director's explanation - the whole story is being told as the nut job killer would have told it, so everything makes sense in the nutball killer's head.

Well, guess what? That's dirty pool. Ever read a story where at the end it was all a dream? That's just as lame as what the director did here. If the whole story must be filtered through the insane killer's perspective, and it must be or it doesn't make any sense and can't make any sense, then what's the point of the whole story? There's no ground for it to be structured on, why should I even believe that any character in the movie is real? How can I know what the pick and choose to be real? The only sensible answer is that the stuff that makes sense is real and everything that doesn't make sense is from the killer's whacked perspective. That's also a horribly stupid answer and it's bad story telling. The story couldn't work logically so they made it illogical.

The director also thought he was being clever giving subtle clues that maybe Marie was a little nutty herself and that's great, but it's not clever when the killer is introduced as clearly a totally separate entity. You can't have it both ways. At least in Fight Club you never see anyone speak to both Brad Pitt and Ed Norton at any one time, they are never together with extra people and recognized as separate entities and when the flashbacks show they're the same it makes sense. In High Tension's flashbacks, they avoid the non-sensical moments, like the car chase, like Alex getting the knife, like the entire scene at the gas station, none of which work in the one person scenario unless we accept the director's weak explanation that it's all the killer's perspective.

And if it is all the killer's perspective, why not have a chorus line of dancing goats? We can't trust anything we're seeing anyway, so who cares? In a nutshell, that single flaw is why the movie can't work at all. In an all or nothing reality scenario, High Tension gives you nothing and that's the only way it can make sense.

Possibly worse yet is the fact that this movie may as well be 100 other movies. Cut out the failed attempt at a plot twist and what do you have? Every slasher movie I've ever seen. There's nothing new here and certainly nothing scary with scenes that are obviously inspired by earlier films and nothing but gore to keep it afloat. Well I can mix my own corn syrup and red food coloring at home, thanks, and I don;t have to read subtitles half the time to do it.

The movie tried and it failed. If the director needs to constantly try to explain himself, he failed. The story should work on its own merits and this movie doesn't. It's only worth watching if you want to see how to totally butcher a twist ending into something that makes no sense at all.
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Stylish and Terrifying; A return to classic late 70's Horror.
NateManD16 July 2005
In order to fully appreciate "High Tension", it's best to see it in its original language and uncut. There has been a lot of hype about this film amongst gore hounds and horror movie buffs. I'd have to say it lived up to its reputation. Although the story is very simplistic and nothing original, "High Tension" still manages to grab the viewer. It has flawless lighting and camera work, great acting and a truly disturbing psychological intensity. The story concerns the tomboyish yet sexy Marie, played by Cecile De France. Marie and her friend Alex plan a vacation away from the big city. Marie is to stay with Alex and her family at their farm house. Little do they know of the psychotic serial killer who is on the prowl, driving his old van through the country side. The killer, played by Philippe Nahon of "I Stand Alone", is a deeply frightening man. He carries a strait razor and at one point even has the nerve to give himself fellatio with a girls decapitated head. Yuck! The killer invades Alex's home and wrecks havoc on her family. The violence is extremely brutal and unrelenting. The bloody realism may cause some viewers to turn their head. The film becomes more insane from this point on turning into a endless pursuit of cat and mouse. Some critics have complained that the film contains certain plot holes. I felt that by director Alex Aja leaving certain things unexplained, it added to the intensity. Very suspenseful and horrifying, no wonder why they called it "High Tension". It sure gave me tension. The reason I recommend seeing the film in its original french version, is because the acting is so believable. Dubbing only takes away from the amazing performances. Also not to mention the MPAA taking their own strait razor to the film, slashing it down to an R rating. I highly enjoyed "High Tension". It marks a return to the style of old school horror directors such as Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter.
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lesbian hates male aspect film at eleven
kindlyones10 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie sucked. Not all is as it seems, as the plot blurb says. What it seems to be is a really good slasher flick. REALLY GOOD! Until the police get involved. I won't spoil it for you if you are desperate to see it-- no wait... yes i will *******spoiler alert********

how is it possible that she is the killer? unanswered questions to ponder: 1. how does her being the killer explain the piece at the beginning where the killer is masturbating with the head of the previous kill?

2. where the hell does the truck come from? they drove the car to the farm house

3. why have the man chasing the brunette, after it is revealed to be the blonde girl?

4. how did the blonde get all bloodied up if she wasn't actually fighting anyone in the greenhouse?

5. at the beginning, we see the blonde stop the car in the forest, and at the end we see the brunette. having the point of view switch when the cops see the video was not only jolting but bad movie making, because there was no reason beyond confusing the audience with facts that can't possibly fit the film thus far.

had we not seen the killer at the beginning, i would have bought the whole thing. had we not seen him masturbating with a head in the cornfield, this movie would have kicked butt. as it stands someone screwed up, huge.

don't waste your money or your time. pvp
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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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The biggest pile of shite ever committed to celluloid.
floyd_dylan8 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The film started off okay, the death scene at the beginning was a little silly, but I was willing to let that slide, but the so called twist made no logical sense whatsoever to the point of being beyond stupid.

This is your typical Eurocrap no logic horror movie that, where the gore is turned on full, but major plot holes are turned up even fuller.

I can't believe this has got rave reviews from critics and moviegoers; it baffles me when the same people slag off Paul W Anderson and Uwe Bowl yet praise this pile of donkey shite.

I don't mind a horror film that stretches the logic barrier, I love David Cronenberg's strange and weird tales, but when this film does a Fight Club out of the blue, your left shouting at the screen WHAT??? So it's her then? How???

I would of been impressed if it was the kidnapped girl who was in on it, and wanted her family bumped off, and take her friend on a sick ride, where they eventually kill her, but no lets make it totally illogical and have the friend being chased by errr herself in a car she stole and driving the van AT THE SAME TIME!!!

So she runs herself off the road using the van she's in, and climbs out of the wrecked car that she stole, does this woman have some sort of teleportation device?

Instead of being tense and scared, you just sit there dumb founded at how laughably bad this movie is. This film should be up for ridicule on the MST3K, it's that bad.
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Just a Cheap Trick!...SPOILERS!!!
DiscoCide29 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was nothing but a lame ass cheap trick. I did not buy it at all. Honestly, they had nothing to sell. A lot of the holes in the plot can be justified by what was going on in the killers mind, except for: WHERE DID THE TRUCK & MURDER WEAPONS COME FROM???? Up until the plot twist, I was enjoying it, but if the twist and ending do not pay off, the movie sucks. End of story. I thought I was in good hands until the twist. This filmmaker conned us into believing we would be taken care of, then f*ck ed us over. Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent films that have crappy plot twists (ie. Fight Club); this is not one of them.
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Horrible mess
DrMonster20 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was unbelievably vile and nonsensical. The violence was particularly graphic and often unnecessary for the plot. Why did Alex have to have the huge piece of glass in her foot? Why did the mother have her hand sawed off? The twist ending made the whole film make no sense, unless we take the "it was all in her mind" approach. Watch "Fight Club" to see how this sort of twist can work. How do you chase yourself in a car? But even before that the "heroine" had no redeeming qualities. She did nothing while the whole family was slaughtered, pranced around like an idiot at the gas station, and then took the completely ridiculous "stick it to the man" approach with the police, who just wanted to know where she was! Still I wish the director had shown the car chase in flashback. Marie drives twenty feet down the road, stops, runs back to the van, slams into the back of the car, gets out, runs to the car, drives off the road!
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Not a pretty sight -- **POSSIBLE SPOILERS**
LondonOnMyMind23 October 2005
As a horror film fan, I have wanted to see "High Tension" for a while, ever since I saw the delectably violent trailer and clips. It does not disappoint in the gory violence department, but I found it to be too short, with an abrupt ending. Still, the film is a haunting exploration of the darkest corners of the human psyche; a portrait that doubles, or maybe masquerades, as a slasher.

Cécile De France is good in the role of Marie, showing grit, nerve and, dare I say, tension when the role calls for it. Maïwenn Le Besco is also good as Alex, although her role does not demand much from her, except for a few scenes of considerable emotional range.

Two of the best aspects of the film are its cinematography and music. Cinematographer Maxime Alexandre paints the film in bluish, metallic, detached hues, that contribute to the effects of truly unapologetic on-screen violence. Composer François Eudes' score is an audio picture of disturbed peace and chaos brewing in the idyll of normalcy. Had it not been for these two elements, the film would not have been half as effective.

"High Tension" is not a must-see film by any means, but it is a must for art-house and horror film fans.

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The highest tension imaginable
abisio24 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Let's clarify first. Haute Tension is not Friday 13 or Scream. While the first was really an exploitation movie and the second is more focused on comedy than in horror, this one, as the title suggest is only concern of giving you the creeps and by the end twist your mind in the most Lynchenian way.

Young women (Alex) and her best friend (Marie) visit her parents. Out of the blue a killer appears killing the whole family and kidnapping Alex and Marie follows the killer, trying to rescue her friend.

Is that all? Well, not really. There are a lot of unexpected surprises that I can not spoil here. The movie is built on logic situations (not in teens taking bath, drinking or using drugs) but in everyday people that suddenly get attacked from some monster (if you think is unreal just read the news). The killer personality has some kind of development. We barely see his face, but his acts follows a certain logic, which makes him more horrifying that any Jason on the market. HE IS REAL!!!

But are the actors the ones good enough to transmit you their fear and despair and create the thrilling environment this movie required and very few others are able to get.

Now to the gore. The killings are really far beyond the usual cruelty and blood of this kind of films. The killing of the kid is the only one that the director decided to soften a little, but compensate with the disgusting / funny `Texas Chainsaw' homage.

By the end, the movie takes an unexpected twist, somehow related to sexual repression, that takes a while to accept and probably many will dislike, but overall this is one of the best slayer movie made and a real horror film, like the ones made twenty years ago when people HAD THE FREEDOM TO SEE OR CREATE whatever they wanted, not like today's ABSURD POLITICALLY CORRECTNESS aka CENSORSHIP.
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Romance On The Horror Movie
RealChristian1415 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
French director Alexandre Aja makes his first horror flick that presents an unlikely story of romance in this French movie entitled "Haute Tension",also known as "High Tension" or "Switchblade Romance".

Cecile De France,Maiwenn and Philippe Nahon star in this film that tells the story of best friends Alex and Marie,who are going to visit and stay at the former's family in rural Southern France, to study.As they sleep on their first night,a sudden appearance of a killer which started to put many people to death.As the killer starts to kill more people,the story later reveals that Marie and the killer,portrayed by Philippe Nahon,are actually one and the same.Apparently,Alex is suffering from a split personality.The reason was also revealed in the end as she surprisingly harbor romantic feelings for Alex.

No question that the slasher flick was nicely done although it provided excessive violence while the killer or Marie is at "work".A small brother of Alex being shot by a gun,a father having his head cut and the mother being slashed on the throat proves just that.What about a decapitated head being thrown on the road?No question that the entertainment factor is based on how much blood are being poured and how many bodies are being disposed.No question that love to do these kind of movies.Fans of slasher flicks will definitely enjoy it.
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karaokegrl19785 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is the most God awful horror flick that I've ever seen. I am so angry right now that I wasted $2.99 on this piece of explosive diarrhea. Any movie that begins with a girl rubbing one out to fake reggae music, then gets even more ridiculous, and eventually snow balls into a humongous heap of dung should get a 0 rating. The actors are horrible and the dubbing from English to French and vice versa is extremely annoying. The lag time between when the victim sees the killer and gets hacked up drags on and on. Remember that scene from Austin Powers when the steam roller is coming to run over the security officer and he shouts no for like 5 minutes instead of just getting out of the way, yeah same effect, ludicrous. Oh, and if your entire family is getting hacked up downstairs and they're screaming bloody murder, and you don't hear a thing is it because of those magical earplugs that they only sell in France. The twist is not clever at all and I would like to drop kick all the idiotic people who rated it 8 or 9. Be warned don't watch this movie unless you like disappointment or like to listen to Nickelback. What a waste of my evening, lame.
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Pleasantly Surprised. This is a Bloody Good Horror Film.
sunset-at-night20 June 2006
I heard of High Tension before. It came out last summer but for some reason the trailer never really caught my attention enough to go out and see it. I thought the synopsis sounded interesting but I figured this is a movie more suited to be viewed on DVD than in theaters. I rented High Tension one weekend and this movie is the answer to the question many horror fans always ask ... "Where are the bloody horror films?". If you are looking for a bloody interesting horror film. High Tension may be your prescription.

High Tension (Haute Tension) is about a girl name Marie who is coming to stay with her good friend Alex at her parents house. While in the house Marie wakes up to find an unknown man in the house killing the family and kidnapping Alex.

I am pleasantly surprised how good the movie was. And it's a surprise to me considering I am not too found of movies that are dubbed. The movie was filmed in French language and then dubbed for the US with English voice overs. If you rent the DVD. Best bet is to play it with the French audio and English subtitles.

Definitely a must see 9/10
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More than meets the eye...
chainsawhand23 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Every now and then in the horror genre, a new film comes along that's supposed to "Scare the hell out of you" or "Get under your skin and stay there for weeks.". Or maybe it's supposed to be "Terrifying" or "Unsettling". These are all comments that have been made about the new French horror flick Haute tension.The film has been creating quite a stir on horror websites, and has had US audiences itching in anticipation of it's theatrical release.

Haute tension (or High tension or Switchblade Romance, depending on where in the world you see it) is, at it's core, a gory, simple slasher film. Marie and Alex, college students, take a weekend at Alex's family farm to study. They are warmly greeted by her loving parents and younger brother. Then a trucker shows up and proceeds to brutally butcher the family and kidnap Alex, leaving it up to Marie to rescue her friend (and stay alive herself, natch).

The film is well acted, for what it's worth in a movie like this. Emotions range from scared to dying, or from angry to crazy. Marie (De France) is basically the only character in the film from around the 20 minute point, and she makes for a strong lead, apparently having studied at the Jamie Lee Curtis/Sigourney Weaver/Linda Hamilton School for Horror Heroines.

Is it scary? I'm not sure. It is certainly intense, sure to cause many a boyfriend's arm to be squeezed. It's also chock full of stomach-churning violence (although one can assume the US version will be significantly tamer). The gore is off-putting, but very effective, and it serves to heighten the tension rather than distract the audience from it, which is a trick many recent US slasher offerings would do well to learn.

The film is also stylish and well made, never winking, constantly taking itself very seriously, another lesson US horror could take from it. This is no Scream. Rather, Haute tension hearkens back to earlier Craven and Carpenter, strongly reminiscent of The Hills Have Eyes , Last House on the Left and Halloween. The film takes no prisoners and grants no asylum. It is very well shot, with an eye for the perverse, demented beauty in the images of mutilation, death, and torment it depicts.


For those of you who fall into the "never plan to see this movie" category (and if you know me personally, I'm probably going to try to make you watch it, so this is your last chance to turn back!), the film ends with a bizarre twist: after chasing down the evil kidnapper, and beating him in the face with a barbed wire topped club, then suffocating him, Marie rescues the bound and gagged Alex. Alex immediately turns on Marie, and we realize that the killer was MARIE HERSELF ALL ALONG!!! This raises several issues, all of which I've been mulling over for a week now.

First of all, does the movie hold up? Is it The Sixth Sense, where we can watch it again and see it in an entirely new light? Or is it The Usual Suspects, where the ending negates or makes impossible much of the film preceding the revelation? I think it's a little of both.

I figured out the twist early in the film, and viewed it as a battle between opposing sides of a character's psyche. Marie is obviously a closeted homosexual, and due to whatever social factors, has denied herself her impulses. This denial and self hatred has led to the development of an alternate personality, the embodiment of stark masculinity. For the most part, the actions of both characters can be seen as parts of the internal struggle for dominance within this sick girl's mind. Only once does the film truly cheat: we in the audience are shown a security camera's recording of the trucker, a character we'll soon discover is a figment of his quarry's imagination. How does the camera pick up an image that doesn't exist? Otherwise, the dual personalities don't directly interact with each other (until the very end), nor do they simultaneously interact with any other character. When they are seen as two entities, it is purely in her mind.

A second issue I've been considering is exactly what stance is the film taking on human sexuality. Is it suggesting that repressed sexuality in general leads to destructive brutality? Or is it repressed homosexuality that does this? Is it trying to say that inside every lesbian is a fat, ugly, Carhartt wearing trucker? Or is he inside every woman, period?

How about the film's thoughts on what brings out the rampaging trucker within; does he simply wait for the right moment? Is he brought out by masturbation? if so, that's a more chilling threat than a hairy palm or blindness, any day. Or is it rejection? Is it possible to want someone so badly that only by massacring everyone else around can one have that person?

These questions I don't have answers to. I have thoughts on them, but none clear enough or well defined enough to verbalize here. The film's numeric rating is based on the fact that I don't like the answers I think the film leads us toward. I do, however, give the filmmakers credit for putting these issues out there. It's a shame that the vast majority of the film's audience will see only the surface events, and will spend more time thinking about whether it makes sense than trying to answer the important social questions it's asking.

But then maybe I'm reading too much into it. Maybe it's just a slasher flick, and a damn good one. And maybe it goes too far at the end, trying to be clever. In that case, same rating.

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sadistic and exploitative
kathy-17910 June 2005
I was terrified throughout most of "High Tension", but at soon as I walked out of the theater, I realized I'd hated it more than any other movie I'd ever seen. The violence here is brutal and realistic, and worst of all, serves no purpose. I couldn't find a single redeeming quality in this film -- it seemed as though all the violence and abuse inflicted on the characters was solely for the purpose of making the audience feel sick. The twist at the end serves as nothing more than a cheap joke, where the director exploits the viewer as much as he does the characters. This movie felt like a snuff film to me. It made me feel dirty for watching it. I enjoy horror movies, but this was no horror -- it was just plain sadism.
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A Pretty Good French Film
Desertman8423 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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So close to perfection........... alas
andy_gza24 July 2004
This movie was so close to being my premature best of the year, It was just a straight up Stalk and slash movie, It is a rare thing for me to find a movie that makes me squirm and get as excited as this did, It had everything, No motive serial killers, terribly splattery original deaths (The first one for example!) And chase scenes etc. Then it got too clever, The makers obviously didn't have enough faith in the picture the way it was up to that point and tried to take it one step beyond for the ending, for me that was a lotta steps back! It somehow made all that came before it not as great as it had seemed, And most definitely will ruin any future viewings of this film.

My advice, DO NOT buy this due to word of mouth, Rent it first, Horror fans wont regret it, I didn't. Like I say, It was fantastic to a point, but that point, just cant be climbed for me. so close to perfection......... so close

Story:2/5 Acting: 4/5 Scare factor:5/5 Gore:4/5
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Would have loved this BUT...
matt7 March 2005
As many reviewers have said, this is one of the best body pile slashers films made ever, certainly in the last few years. Buckets of blood, great makeup and special effects, and some seriously genius ways of offing the good guys. But we also get one of the stupidest plot twists ever that not only ruins the vibe of the film, but makes the whole script seem completely incoherent. On multiple viewings you see the direction around this twist is actually quite well done, tons of small hints and some gross additions are noticed, but it's not worth it at all. If there was no plot twist, this would have easily gotten a 9 in my book, but it's lucky it got the 6 with that dumb idea tacked on for no reason.
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