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High Tension (2003)

October 4, 2009

VERDICT:
6/10 Psycho Girlfriends

Without a doubt one of the most brutal and unsettling horror movies I’ve ever seen. Too bad it gets so damn stupid.

High Tension is about two lovely ladies in France that go for a road trip in the countryside to meet the parents. Everything goes off without a hitch, then a homicidal truck driver shows up, kills the parents (buzzkill), and starts hunting down the two lovebirds, you know, so he can kill them, too.

Meet the Parents doesn’t seem so bad now, does it. That Greg Focker had it easy.

So this here movie is directed by one Alexandre Aja. Now, I’ve seen interviews with Aja and for the most part he seems like a pretty ordinary guy; and that is reason enough to never trust ordinary guys. You may now Alexandre better from his other two movies – The Hills Have Eyes remake (featuring what may well be the most disturbing and vile family murder/rape scene ever put to celluloid) and Mirrors (which, according to a clip I’ve seen, features Amy Smart ripping her own head in half at the mouth).

What a charming fellow, this Alexandre Aja.

Just to give you fair warning, a lot of what happens in High Tension really doesn’t stray far from the degree of brutality that those other movies display. It’s not the scariest jump-out-of-your-seat experience, but it will shake you the hell up. I’ve got pretty thick skin and have gotten really good at taking horror movies lightly, but sweet sassy molassy, this mofo takes it to a whole ‘nother level. Right from the get-go, even before that crazy bastard shows up to the house and starts poppin’ heads, this is one jaw-dropping ride. Man, I think I might have showered after seeing this.

Alright, so as a horror movie, I think it’s clear High Tension gets it done. But then again, there’s still the story…

The story starts out well enough and maintains the intensity without a hitch for a good hour or so, it might not be the most original story for a horror movie, but whatever, no points deducted. But then the Third Act comes along and Aja decides this movie sure could use a twist. Why? “Why the fuck not!” laughs Alexandre. Not gonna give it away, but the so-called twist is beyond absurd, makes absolutely no sense, more or less negates the plausibility of anything that happened in the movie before the “reveal”, and nearly forces the movie as a whole to do a hard nosedive from freakin’ awesome to laughably stupid.

But then Aja brings out the big guns (aka: a buzzsaw) and shuts his audience right up. Funny how buzzsaws seem to have that effect on people.

Still, there aren’t a whole lot of horror movies out there I’m tentative to recommend just because they’re so hard to take, but the Alexandre Aja collection sits right up there with the greatest hits of Takashi Miike (the Japanese king of sadism, but a pretty good director nonetheless). The acting is pretty solid, the score is great considering it’s comprised entirely of the sounds of high tension wires (fun fact!), and even though the story more or less blows, High Tension is one utterly horrifying movie.

I need to start reviewing more romantic comedies. This kind of stuff can’t be good for me.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    October 5, 2009 10:41 am

    it’s been a while since i saw this, but i seem to recall agreeing with everything you’ve said. huuuuuge “wait, WHAAAT?? Oh come on!” moment at the end. it did feel awfully tacked on…or at least not well thought out.

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