October 15, 2008

Haute Tension (2003)

"French college students, Marie and Alex head to Alex's secluded farmhouse in hopes of studying for their exams without distractions. While settling in, A man breaks into the home and brutally murders Alex's family while Marie tries to hide herself from the killer. When the killer binds and kidnaps Alex, Marie follows him as an attempt of saving her friend and along the way, runs into some dangerous obstacles."

The trouble with "Haute Tension" (High Tension) or "Switchblade Romance" (as the badly dubbed version is called in the UK) is that it has a twist at the end which renders the whole thing completely ludicrous.

For those of you who have never seen it, "Haute Tension" is 20 minutes girlie boredom, 60 minutes of full-on family-massacring splatter, and 10 minutes of ridiculous (yet not wholly unexpected) denouement showing the whole thing to be caused by some kind of repressed lesbian urge.

Now I may be alone in this but Cécile De France who plays Marie (and with herself at one point!) is absolutely gorgeous and makes the toothy Maïwenn Le Besco (who plays the object of her affection Alex) look very plain in comparison. Well, that's until the final minutes anyway. The whole thing could have just been so easily avoided if someone had gone up to Marie and said, "You know, you could do so much better!"

But anyway, the plot as it stands is nothing that you haven't seen before in things like "Identity" and even, dare I mention the crap, "Bikini Party Massacre". I've got a feeling that all three are probably based on a far better movie that they've all lifted the twist from but I've yet to work out which one exactly it was. Alexandre Aja, the director, isn't exactly known for doing anything original anyway as his main claim to fame is the awful remake of "The Hills Have Eyes" and the new version of "Piranha"!!!

If you pay close attention to the plot you will also spot lots of holes that will make you even more angry when everything is revealed. Lots of things are just not explained which means that you should probably never go back and watch it again as it just doesn't hold up to that kind of scrutiny at all.

The gore set pieces are quite impressive though with gallons of blood spurting everywhere. The only weak point is the shotgun death of the annoying little boy which you don't get to see. Mind you, you don't get to see the St. Bernard dog go to stinky dog heaven either which is an even bigger disappointment.

I don't think you'll be scared by this unless you are some kind of complete wussypants. It's not exactly "Ils" for tension or scares though the beginning is in the same vein.

My rating is 3 out of 10. I wish there'd been more characterisation and maybe some spurned but attempted lesbian advances to explain why any of this occurs at all. The cause of the whole thing is never properly explained.

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