Saturday, June 11, 2005

High Tension

High Tension (Director: Alexandre Aja)

Or: Haute Tension. This is Aja's first major splash in the States. He is writing and directing the remake of the Wes Craven flick The Hills Have Eyes, due in 2006.

Any movie from overseas that gets shuttled over here has to have some sort of uniqueness (or gimmick) or else it's just another movie, and with subtitles or dubbing--box office poison in most cases. High Tension is redneck horror, from the French! And it's curiously dubbed into English and then lapses into subtitles halfway through, then switches back later, and there seems to be no reason for it. There is also apparently a little bit trimmed in the American version, to knock it down from an NC-17 to an R.

High Tension follows that classic horror movie setup: people going on a trip and staying (or getting lost) in the sticks. Marie (Cecile de France) and Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco) are going to Alex's family's ranch, and once there, a psycho killer (Philippe Nahon, who steals the movie) is driving up to the place and hacking everyone up. Alex is tied up and put into a van, where pictures of past female victims line the passenger viser, and Marie, after some cunning, stows away on it hoping to get some help.

The movie is at its peak during the main setup, and there's a good use of sound, especially with the crunching of the killer's boots. Then, it starts to become a slight snooze, and then the ending--I'm still trying to figure out if it makes any sense or not, but it's assuredly the main reason why this film has gotten a wide release. It's certainly a very sick movie, but no worse than Saw.

Anyway, de France is an oddball kind of beauty, with that boy haircut that can't hide her natural appeal, and her performance is very good. However, like I mention before, Nahon is great. He plays a redneck, that's for sure, but a smart one. Aja certainly has the "sense of dread" thing down, now if only the whole movie could have been that way, not sleepwalking to its finale, this might have been a classic. As is, it's an above-average scare-flick.


At 6/12/2005 12:17:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I've been so busy this weekend, I haven't had time to see anything. This was first on my list, but I keep hearing and reading reviews much like yours. I really thought there was finally going to be a great horror film out there this year, but maybe we'll have to wait till "Land of the Dead" or "Night Watch." I'll still probably check it out though.


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