on June 9, 2006
The feature film breakout from French director Alexandre Aja is just the kind of grueling and grisly splatter-fest you won't soon forget. However, "High Tension" (or "Haute Tension," if you prefer) is more than just gore galore with a stylistic touch; it's also a psychological horror that not only plays with your mind, but alters your expectations of what a horror movie could and should be as well.
In the film, best friends and college students Alex and Marie find their vacation in a remote farmhouse owned by Alex's parents cut short when a mysterious man in a grungy overalls welcomes himself in. After the family is dispatched of and the man kidnaps Alex in his creepy Scooby-Doo van, Marie pursues him on a roadtrip that finds the carnage mounting as the tension builds, capping off in an unforgettable conclusion.
Proving to be a true master of horror, Alexandre Aja combines arresting visuals with disturbing imagery to concoct a bold piece of cinema that takes the genre to a whole new level. Among its accomplishments, this film marks the beginning of the French horror boom that eventually gave way to the director's fruitful career in the United States, directing the successful remake of The Hills Have Eyes. It's a tough film to discuss without giving too much away, but rest assured, its effects will linger for days after seeing it. It's a film that begs to be seen twice as there is so much to digest and the film leads you to believe it's something it's not the first go-round. Crammed full of suspense, gore and style, "High Tension" is the kind of film that more than lives up to its name.
High tension is a new and interesting horror film recently released. Ive never seen anything like it before. They dont call it High Tension for nothing, thats for sure. The whole movie will have you on the edge of your seat and there is more than the fair share of shocks and suprises throughout the film. The overall atmosphere has a lonesome creepy feeling about it, full of cornfields, seclusion and quietness. Gorehounds will love this, there is tons of gore and the ending will suprise the hell out of you. There are very few horror films that can shock you in such a way where you literally jump out of your seat but this one has its moments.
Setting,France. The story surrounds Alex and Marie, 2 college students who retreat to Alex's parents isolated farm house looking to study for their college exams for the weekend. While everyone in the house settles in for the night, Marie is in bed when she starts to hear sounds and sees a truck pull up. Soon enough a homicidal maniac breaks in the home and from there its a non-stop rollercoaster ride of terror. And then the twist at the end..
This is a movie that shouldnt be missed by fans of the horror genre. It revels in its gore and has a smart edge to it.
High Tension is partially dubbed into english but for a lot of the movie you dont need subtitles. Noone says a word and the actions say it all.
Unrated version DVD Features-
5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital
U.S Unrated Version
DVD Introduction with Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur
Haute Horror- Making of High Tension
Giannetto De Rossi: The Truth, The Madness and The Magic
Selected Scenes commentary with Alexandre Aja and Cecile de France
Original French language Director's Cut
U.S. English language dubbed version
Optional English subtitles, Optional Spanish Subtitles and Trailers
Overall Highly recomended, try to get the unrated version.
on November 30, 2005
Alejandre Aja serves up a sulphurously nasty little gut-churner of a horror flick that finally answers the age-old burning question: is there anything hotter than a buff chick wielding a buzz-saw?
A: Absolutement, non!
Now: is it possible to conjure up a pure, nightmarish gem of a horror movie, perhaps even a *perfect* horror movie, within the space of about an hour?
It is: Aja has done it with "Haute Tension", which---for its first 60 minutes, perhaps a little more---positively boils over with knuckle-splitting suspense and runs crimson with boatloads of brains, blood, and clotted gore.
While "Haute Tension" works, it works in spades. Here we have an athletic, spare, no-bullsh*t little horror flick that drives up to your house in the dead of night (while you're just getting into that "I gotta be dreaming" state of deep-groggy-helplessness), smashes your door down, stomps up your stairs, and butchers you like a squealing hog before you've even gotten your jammy-clad butt clear of the bedclothes.
"Haute Tension" is a compact, stylish, jarring, gorgeously shot, supply terrifying little tale of a happy little family and their visitor Marie (the astonishingly nubile Cecille de France, who can wield her buzz-saw on my country estate any time), enjoying a quiet, slightly rustic life in the French countryside, and what becomes of them one night when a Monster comes calling.
Is it possible to destroy that perfect film within 10 seconds?
Mais oui!---Aja does that as well, in the final reel, with a cheap, feeble "twist" plot device that basically takes everything in the flick that has gone before and tosses it into the sh*tter, effectively taking a highly disrespectful, unceremonious dump on what was---up to that point---one of the few flicks I've ever seen that came close to the raw, brutal, uncompromising horror of the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".
Ah well: we do what we can with what we're given. "Haute Tension" is marvellously simple: two French chicks---Marie (the buff De France) and Alexia (Maiwenn le Besco, who for some reason sets my teeth on edge, and not in a good way) decide to spend a little quality time studying on Alexia's family farm deep in the French countryside. Relaxing, n'est-ce pas?
Their little collegial R&R is broken up in the dead of night by The Killer (the amazing Philippe Nahon), who shows up, kicks down the front door, and manages to single-handedly undo 200 years of nasty jokes about wimpy Frenchmen by unloading all sorts of hardcore a**-whuppery on the unsuspecting family within. In his first two minutes onscreen, he manages to make Michael Myers, Jason, and Freddy Krueger look like a bunch of pansies.
He also brings some much needed punishment-fits-the-crime judgement to the horror genre: be slow to answer your door at 2 in the morning? Have your block knocked off by a chest-of-drawers! Have the bad form to try and call the police? Try dialing 9-1-1 with a stump, mademoiselle!
As I mentioned, when "Haute Tension" works---and it continues to do its brutal business well even after the stupid twist---it works in spades: this is a pungent, nasty, truly scary flick. De France is astonishing to look at, but she's also an amazingly capable actress, and serves as a fitting opponent for the flick's hungry Monster in his blood-spattered, trophy-studded delivery van.
And let's save the best for last: Philippe Nahon as The Killer is just astonishing in what could easily have been a throwaway role. Nahon played The Butcher in the lose-your-dinner-horrific "I Stand Alone", and he's effectively bottled and distilled that coiled rage and translated it into "Haute Tension".
Nahon's Killer is a show-stopper: he's a kind of black hole of pure physical presence and smoldering, sadistic evil---check out that sick little smile that forms up on his fat pug while he's checking out his 'trophies' in the rear-view mirror. Gorgeous. Nahon's Killer is a nasty piece of work.
The same can be said of "Haute Tension", despite its glaring flaw: Aja has created a very simple---deliciously simple---little film that touches---Hell, presses down hard---on that deep-seated, primal fear of the Murderous Outsider barging in through our door in the wee hours of the morning and killing, raping, burning and eating everything we hold dear.
on September 8, 2014
I absolutely love this movie. I have seen it numerous times. The movie keeps you guessing all the way through. I know a lot of people have trouble with the ending, but I am pretty open minded, and even if the ending does bother you the rest of the movie is action packed enough to forgive it.
The guy who plays the killer is a great actor. He is very psychotic and really makes you think he is very capable of committing these crimes. The French have some pretty bizarre stuff out there. I have seen plenty of the "serial killer, torture movies", but I have yet to see a French ghost story.
on December 24, 2014
Wow, what a movie. True horror, true suspense, true terror, and yes... high tension!!!!
The acting is superb, the story is great, and the horror is the real deal... not some crappy teen slasher nonsense. The true beauty of the movie is the how with almost no dialogue you can be terrified. Without the use of over the top characters you can be completely intrigued by the good guys and the bad. The movie is by no means a "gore-fest" but has some gore to it which is done excellently and is in no way an emphasis or driving gimmick to make up for other areas of the movie.
Of all the French horror movies that came out in the mid 2000's this one is my favorite and is the best in my opinion. It by far beats Inside, Frontiers (which sucked), Them (ils), and Martyrs (which I like a lot but is way hardcore), and others I can't think of.
Finally, the best way to watch this film is to watch it in French with US subtitles. The English voice over isn't too bad but the dialogue isn't as good in the English voice over as it is in the English subtitles.
So in all, this is my favorite modern horror film and is not for the faint of heart. If you want to be truly terrified and to have a good horror watching experience this is your film, if not then stick to junk like Return to Sleep Away Camp.
on February 15, 2016
This is a 'Can you handle this till the end' kind of movie.
There is no Rape scene or Nudity at all. This is streightly violent slasher movie.
There is a movie made by John Woo titled HARD TARGET. In that movie rich people pays money to hunt people like hunting animal.
A certain company makes this enviornment in a forrest and set up a bunch of men as a prey and make them run away. The customers hunt them with their rifles.
People tends to like being violent in some way. They enjoys it secretly from the deep in their heart. They just hide that feeling and not showing. They even hide that feeling and never use it. They sometimes watch brutal movies to satisfy their pleasure.
This movie is very very vilolent and some of the people won't be handle it.
But there are more brutal movies out there such as <A Serbian Film> or <Cannibal Holocaust> out there.
This film is just a one of the movie that makes you enjoy a little of violence.
The story is just simple. Cécile De France, our main actress happens to stay in her girlfriend's house one night with her girlfriend and her mother, father and a dog. Late at night this psycopath comes into the house and kill the mother, father and the dog in the most brutal way that you cannot imagine and kidnappes the girlfriend and the main charactor. The main charactor does everything to save her girlfriend and herself.
And at the end there is this surprising reverse which in my thought a little cheesy.
i was not scary at all about this movie since I saw so many slasher movies in my life. I think my brain gor numd already and that is a big problem.
But for other people out there, this movie must be a big time scary movie.
Be aware if you want to watch this film, be really prepared.
on March 10, 2015
If you have a passions for foreign horror than i highly recommend this film, it's nasty and so beautiful. I'm not saying you need to be a little off to enjoy it but there is a lot about this movie that is very sadistic and it has just such a great twist that does mentally hurt your head. To all horror fans I recommend this amazing movie and don't worry there's subtitles.
on October 13, 2015
The twist may seem out of place or unbelievable to some, but if we keep in mind that (POTENTIAL SPOILER AHEAD - but kept mostly vague) we are watching from the perspective of an unstable person and unreliable narrator, any inconsistencies can be explained as part of that person's twisted reality. I didn't see the surprise of the ending coming, and as a horror fan I loved the intensity and gore of the movie. I was on edge for most of the film - dare I say experiencing high tension? The only downside is that this is the US dubbed version - I vastly prefer watching foreign films in their original language, with the subtitle. The U.S. dub of [REC], for example, has atrocious dubbing that takes your right out of the movie and makes it impossible to suspend disbelief. The dubbing is much better here in High Tension, with actual vocal inflection, but I wish subtitles were an option.
on March 18, 2015
Wow!!! Great movie if you're looking for a super suspensful, fast paced thrill. A few gory scenes. It's the type of movie where you definitely wouldn't want to leave the room for even a second without hitting the pause button.
LOL! So I'm not sure exactly how I got on here twice...the other review is supposed to be for the DVD release, not this one...sorry for innundating you all with my two reviews instead of one :-\
When I originally wrote this review, it was based off of the import DVD from France that I was able to get about 5 months ago. But, Amazon took all reviews down as it got closer to the movie release date here in the states. So I'm redoing my review based on the American release.
The American release is a cut version of the French film which received an NC-17 rating. This rating means death at the US box office, so they cut it down a bit. I'm happy to tell you that they didn't cut too much. I think the length of the movie dropped maybe 2 minutes at the most. Ironically, what was cut from the movie was not any scene involving sex. Most NC-17 films that are cut to miss the rating, have their sex scenes cut. In this case, it is the hardcore violence that is slightly muted. In some cases this works because I thought some of the violence early on (see the weird decapitation) was over the top blood wise, verging on Kill Bill type blood. But, it also detracts from the ending with the scene involving the wood spike and barb wire. That scene, unfortunately, was cut down.
This movie is sick and I don't mean sick as in cool (though it is cool, too). Even cut down, this movie is violent and bloody. In fact, I cannot recommend this movie to anyone who is squeamish, weak stomached or scared easily. That said, if you are tired of the current crop of American horror movies (Cursed, Hide and Seek, Alone in the Dark, Ring 2, et al ad nauseum) and want something visceral and in your face, look no further.
I will only talk about the setup to this movie. It's about two college girls who go to one of the girl's family farm for a weekend to study in peace and quiet. But when a guy pulls up in the dead of night in front of their house, it becomes a cat and mouse game between one of the girls and a truly homicidal man. And what follows is about 85 minutes of pure tension. The movie is aptly named. While there are few "cheap jump out scares" in the movie, there is this feeling of tension that balls up in your stomach where you constantly wonder when the protagonist will make the wrong move.
If you have read the book Intensity by Dean Koontz, the setup is very similar to that. It's like the director was working with that book as a starting point for the movie before moving in a different direction, namely changing the events leading up to the climax. In fact, I'm surprised there hasn't been more mention of this fact since half of the movie is almost scene for scene from the book in some ways. My recommendation is to not check out any other reviews for this movie. I've read a few on some different websites and they gave away some of the plot.
The director knows music and uses it very effectively to increase the tension of the movie. Unlike horror music today, it doesn't peak at moments to tell you "be scared right...NOW!" Instead, he uses some ambient music that you might not be aware you're hearing but you will feel its effects. For example, he uses a metranome that dings at a constant beat, mirroring your heart beat thudding. It's subtle but very effective in pulling you into the movie and making you feel like even the music could give away the protagonist's hiding place.
The acting is also really well done. Well the physical acting. Since this is a French film, the movie is dubbed instead of being subtitled and while the voice dubbers did an admirable job, it's still dubbed. The dubbing in the theatrical cut is different from the version I have. In the theatrical cut, they tried to make the characters bilingual. I think this detracted from the movie. I happen to not like dubbing, but I would rather them stick with one form through the movie, not moving back and forth at will for no apparent reason.
If you enjoyed the movie, I'd recommend trying to get a copy of the import version through Ebay or something. The DVD version is rated NC-17 for a sexual scene, brief nudity and more violence and blood than you can imagine. Overall, it's better than the theatrical cut.
I have to talk about the major turning point in the movie. I have seen this movie 4 times now, twice from the DVD I own and twice in the theatre. When I first saw the twist ending, I thought it was cool. But after thinking about it, I didn't think it made much sense and was confused about it. After seeing it an almost obsessive 4 times, I can say that I understand the ending and that it really does make sense. It's a different kind of movie than what most American cinema goers are used to.
I've seen a lot of foreign films, both horror and not, and a prevalent theme is that they are usually ambiguous and allow the viewer to draw their own conclusions. This movie falls into this category. If you think about it, and watch it more than once, you can see how the movie falls into place. They don't lead you along by the hand, you have to see and find the puzzle pieces that fit. I will tell you that after seeing it so many times, most of the puzzle pieces are there. I can see how the ending will infuriate and frustrate some. I can also see how people will say the ending doesn't make a lick of sense. It's true that on your first viewing it won't make much or any sense. But, if you see it a couple times you can see how it fits together. The question is, is it worth it to you to see how it works or not? For me it was.
Ending aside, however, what we have here is a truly intense and disturbing film. Not only in what happens in the film but the themes only hinted at in the film. Because of its content only those who truly like horror movies should see this movie. Truthfully, why do us horror fans go to see scary movies? To be scared. Not to discuss the twist ending. For me, this movie was intense and scary. It's very in your face and not for the weak of stomaches. But if you can stomach it, it can leave you breathless.