Publicity Stills of "High Tension"
(Courtesy from Festive Films)

In French with English & Chinese subtitles
Director: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Cecile De France, Maiwenn, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun, Andrei Finti, Oana Pellea, Marco Claudiu Pascu, Jean-Claude De Goros, Bogdan Uritescu
RunTime: 1 hr 25 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: R21

Opening Day: 20 October 2005


Marie and Alexia are classmates and best friends. Hoping to prepare for their college exams in peace and quiet, they decide to spend a weekend in the country at Alexia’s parents’ secluded farmhouse. But in the dead of night, a stranger knocks on the front door. And with the first swing of his knife, the girls’ idyllic weekend turns into an endless night of horror…

Prepare to take a white-knuckle journey into the heart of terror with HIGH TENSION, the nightmarish story of two girls’ battle for survival at the hands of a sadistic psychopath. Marking a return to the raw intensity of 1970s horror classics, director Alexandre Aja reduces the genre to its bare essentials, building a narrative of growing dread that culminates in a truly shocking climax. Relentlessly tightening the screws of suspense, HIGH TENSION will have you struggling to catch your breath…

Movie Review:

Starting off a horror movie with a guy in a van getting head by a severed body part will surely alarm all senses of mayhem and macabre elements to come. Swinging you back to the old-school hardcore horror-gore of the 70’s/80’s in likeness of Halloween and Texas Chainsaw, this movie stands proudly among the perpetual being of darkness.

The plot is simplicity itself: the tragedy unfolds when two college friends (Marie and Alex) head out to the rural countryside to stay with Alex’s parents for a weekend of peaceful studying. But only after a few hours, a strange man knocks on the door marking the commencement of a night of brutal violence of such horrible demise to the houses’ inhabitants.

High Tension gets 70’s style serious with the horror genre by punching your senses to the ground followed by a kick to the face just to ensure you get the message. Its visual style is rich with gore thanks to the work of veteran makeup artist Giannetto de Rossi under the direction of Aja. Where many lesser directors might pull away at it’s cut throat scenes, Aja ensures that the shot lingers for an almost unbearable length of time.

Playing Maria and Alex are Cecile De France and Maiwenn Le Besco, both of whom give very different yet very effective performances. Kudos to Cecile who is a stunner as she goes through a range of both delicate and extreme emotions and physical demands with the ability of a master thespian.

The end result is a flick that's hardly a classic, but one that should absolutely have the Gorehounds squealing contentedly with delight. A sinister, pitch-black masterpiece, as thematically deep and suggestively powerful as it is unforgettably scary. Those without strong stomachs and a small thresholds for the most extreme of human behavior and capabilities will, no doubt, be turned off within the first fifteen minutes.

Amongst the mayhem, there is a story awaiting to be sprung onto the viewers when they least expect it and while the hacking and slashing appears to be a shallow driving force behind the film, there is a surprise waiting around the corner. Personally the eventual plot twist wasn’t really necessary because many will already be hooked on the premise that was carefully sold during the preceding 80 minutes, but it’s there and very unavoidable. It was a very clever idea that failed to work purely from a logic point of view.

Such deficits are easy to overlook thanks to High Tension's knowing performances and unnerving combination of ambient sound, fluidly jittery cutting, and sly widescreen setups. It's enough to give horror fans reason to anticipate Aja's next project - remake of The Hills Have Eyes.

Movie Rating:

(The return of old-school gore horror that will hook you in the gut with disturbing pleasure)

Review by Lokman B S


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