Haute Tension (2004)
Director: Alexandre Aja
Cecile De France/Marie
Maiwenn Le Besco/Alex
Phillipe Nahon/The Killer
Marie (De France) and Alex (Le Besco) are two hot college students on their way to visit Alex's family at a cabin in the woods (where else?). Theyâ€™re serene stay is interrupted by a fat, angry, perverted French man (Naho) in Michael Myers overhauls who proceeds to slaughter the unit in imaginative/atrocious ways. With only Marie and Alex managing to survive the attack, a taunt game of dames and psycho ensues. And then, the bitch slap happens!
"Iâ€™ll never let anyone come between us again."-- Marie
*** This is a review of the uncut version ***
FINALLY! THE REAL DEAL! If you thought "House of a 1000 Corpses", "Wrong Turn" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake were 100% percent true revivals of 70â€™s-like exploitation (I actually didâ€¦silly me), get ready to be brutally corrected by "Haute Tension", a film that aims to teach you a dire lesson in horror manners while raping your melon at the same time. Boy, did I learn! This oneâ€™s got big bulldog balls between its legs and then some! It will be hard to dissect the picture without giving anything away, so Iâ€™ll avoid specifics and say this: see it twice.
My first reaction when the end credits rolled was one of â€śGo f*ck yourself for this, Mr. Directorâ€ť. You see, this ride was â€śapparentlyâ€ť playing it on one note throughout. Although I did pick up on some psychological undertones of a sexual flavor, the film looked and acted mostly like a standard, yet incredibly vicious, serial killer-on-the-rampage opus. In consequence, I didnâ€™t linger on the substance, perceiving it as trite raciness for the sake of it. But then it happened, a twist cracked me across the head near the end and frustratingly changed the whole tune. That prompted me to dismiss the movie as a gimmicky slut. But when it came time to put fingers to keyboard and write my review, I just didnâ€™t feel right...my instincts were telling me that I missed out on something. So being that thereâ€™s a hooker strike about town this week, I took the time to watch "Haute Tension" again and with my knowledge of the aforementioned sucker-punch in tow...I saw the mischief under a whole new light the second time around. Not only did everything make sense now, but I also found myself applauding this deviantâ€™s cleverness and true nature.
With that out of the way, get ready to be taken through the ringer, my macabre-famished friends. DINNER IS SERVED! Alexandre Aja did his horror homework, is obviously a genre fanatic and I respect the man highly for that! We get the sadism-laced mayhem the likes of a "Last House on The Left", the truck from "Jeepers Creepers", Michael Myersâ€™ overhauls, the bathroom scene from "Maniac", a scene near the end that perfectly echoed "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and more! Not solely resorting on emulating others' efforts, Aja backed his shit up like a manâ€™s man by knowing no limits and reveling in shocking the shite out of me.
Anything went with this twisted bastard! Just to give you an idea: early on in the film we witness a dude get a blowjob from a severed chickadeeâ€™s head. And it thankfully gets much worse down the road with the kills at hand being beyond-graphic and mean-spirited. Fuck me, man! That hurt, bro! THANK YOU! The same can be said about the thick tension at play which whooped me into submission like a man-dog with flees. The psychotic happenings were bravely low on dialogue and high on stalk sequences, action and chases. That made for a mucho engrossing watch...I just couldnâ€™t take my eyes off the screen...living the madness before me and wanting to partake in the butchery firsthand (I got my own shit going on).
To top all of that French class off, the whole of the affair was bathed in gorgeous visuals while sporting an unconventional and unsettling score that fiercely supported the grisly goodies. WOW! WHAT A MOVIE! All in all, yes, I had to nail this one twice to totally fall in love with her, but it was worth the extra pump. I can easily say that this is the first TRUE TO THE CORE horror movie that Iâ€™ve seen all year. You dig it edgy, gory, crazy, fast-paced and up the ying-yang cruel. Take this French dame for a spin! SHE GOES ALL THE WAY!
Good news, fellow psychopaths! All of the gore was practical and created by Gianetto De Rossi's of "Zombie" and "House by the Cemetery". We get a head crushed off by a desk, an insane slit throat, an axe in the chest, a piece of glass in oneâ€™s foot, a severed hand, a vicious head bashing by barbed wired stick, a messy saw blade attack, some good old fashioned stabbings, some slashings and more! Christmas came early this year!
I adored Cecile De Franceâ€™s (Marie) performance. As the clock moved forward, she reached emotional peaks that impressed the â€śwowâ€ť out of me. Her bouncy cans also had me at "hello". Hot stuff! Maiwenn Le Besco (Alex) also gave a strong show...the girl cried in hysterics perfectly! Reminded me of my last dateâ€¦hehehe! Phillipe Naho (The Killer) had the low-key intensity and pervert â€śfat pigâ€ť look required for the role...I bought itâ€¦too much! I hope I never run into this guy at a party!
T & A
Maiwenn Le Besco showed us her ample jugs (in a shower scene, of course) and Cecile De France diddled the button under her Jeans for our viewing pleasure. You go, Cecile! The ladies getâ€¦NATHING! MUAAAAAHH!
I truly grooved on the morbid tone Alexandre Aja communicated via bluish hues, creative plays with lighting and occasional semi-artsy flavor. We also get slick angles galore, a potent use of fast (loved the tracking shot) and slow motion that upped the power of specific scenes. Lastly, the dude sure knows how to stage and deliver taunt suspense sequences...he had me punching my buddy next to me to a bloody pulp. I canâ€™t wait to see what this crazy French man does next! KEEP 'EM COMING, MAN!
We get some Italian tune, a reggae song and one kick ass ditty called "NewBorn" by â€śMuseâ€ť. The score itself was deliciously odd and disconcerting. At times, it used NewBornâ€™s beat in its mix, at others, it jingled like Carpenterâ€™s Halloween score. PERFECT!
"Haute Tension" got its severed head and ate it too-- working overtime on two levels. One being a daring slash-athon with a slew of suspense-fueled scenes, the other being something a little deeper and definitely damn clever. Donâ€™t be so quick to spank "Haute Tension" with a hammer after your first sit down with it. Like I said, when the twist kicked in...I initially got freaking mad and cursed like a drunken drunk being drunk with one hand in the front of his trunks but I eventually wised up. Yup, I watched it again and saw the real picture. So againâ€¦SEE IT TWICE! The French finally get their horror classic and we finally get a smart, sadistic, graphic and perverted flick that lives up to the term â€śhorrorâ€ť. Merci Aja et Levasseur pour ce puissant film dâ€™horreur! Je vous dois tout les deux au moins 6 bieres chaque!
LG has cut one minute from the film to get an R Rating. Bugh...I thought they were gonna release this NC-17!
The English title of the film is currently "Switchblade Romance" (shit title) although word has it that Lionâ€™s Gate Films will release it as "High Tension" (better title).
On the strength of this flick, the 26-year old director Alexandre Aja earned the directorial chair for
the upcoming "The Hills Have Eyes" remake.
The screenplay was written by Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur.
The flick was shot in Bucharest, Romania.
READ THE ARROW'S INTERVIEW WITH CECILE DE FRANCE HERE
READ THE JOBLO.COM ALEXANDRE AJA INTERVIEW
VISIT THE OFFICIAL HIGH TENSION SITE HERE