Alexandre Aja & Gregory Levasseur
Cecile de France as Marie
Maiwenn Le Besco as Alexia
Philippe Nahon as The Killer
By The Zombie Master, Lee Roberts
Do you remember the first time you ever saw Friday the 13th? What about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Do you remember the suspense, the wonder, the awe? More importantly, do you remember the longing for more of the same? I am not talking about the campy sequels that we all know and love (or hate), but the introduction of a fresh mind to write their own addition to the genre. Many have tried and failed, but every now and then you run across a true contender who understands what we as “Horror Freaks” are looking for.
Haute Tension (released as High Tension in the U.S.) is just such a film, and it is imported to us from the last place you would look; France.
Haute Tension starts out with two college friends, Marie (Cecile de France) and Alexia (Maiwenn Le Besco), driving to Alexia’s parents house to study for finals. Alexia’s parents live in a very secluded farm house which will give both of them the peace and quiet that they need. The two young ladies arrive late and quickly say their hellos to Alexia’s family and prepare to end the evening.
With everyone turned in for the night, Marie decides to relieve a little bit of her own tension. Not graphic, but also not at all discrete…
She is awakened when a truck pulls up outside. The driver makes his way to the front door and starts to ring the door buzzer. Alexia’s father, awakened by the noise, runs down stairs to discover who could be at the door at such an hour.
Meanwhile, Marie is watching from the upstairs guest room window and witnesses the driver become “The Killer” when he makes light work of Alexia’s father. He then enters the home and Marie’s nightmare begins, or does it.
What follows is a very well done horror film that stays original while still paying homage to the classics of the genre. Co-writer/director Alexandre Aja does a good job at setting the tone very early in Haute Tension and intensifying it with a rhythm that will have you reminiscing about the good old days of the slasher film.
I have heard some say that this is the goriest movie they have ever seen. Apparently they have not sat down and watched Hostel . Let me say that while this movie is gory, the gore is well placed. Unlike Hostel where it seemed that the story was there to supplement the gore, Aja uses gore in this film to supplement the story which is how it should be. Let’s face it; Gore alone does not a good horror movie make.
I would now like to give a warning without giving away the ending. This movie is actually too smart for its own good. Let me explain.
You will be watching Haute Tension for the first time. You will be enjoying the no holds barred grit. You will get to the end and you will say to yourself or others in the room, “What the…?” When you do this, wait a day and then watch it again, but this time pay attention to the story. It will all become clear and you will say to yourself slowly, “That was cool.” On the other hand, if you still don’t get it, watch Haute Tension for the neat gore scenes that make a good slasher film, for there are plenty.
Although it may take multiple viewings to get it, Haute Tension deserves to be placed, if not next to, at least on the same shelf as the classics in your DVD library.