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High Tension (Unrated Widescreen Edition) (2005)

Art House & International movie directed by Alexandre Aja

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It's the real deal...a psycho killer movie with TENSION!!

  • Nov 30, 2005
  • by
Rating:
+2
This is what psycho killer thrillers should be like! Actually INTENSITY, actual fear...actually making the viewer uncomfortable.

Marie and Alexa, two college roommates, are off to visit Alexa's parents in their new country home. Alexa is a bit boy-crazy, and Marie is obviously smitten with her friend. They arrive at the quaint home late at night, briefly meet the parents and little brother, and then go to bed. Suddenly, the peaceful, remote house is descended upon by a true madman, apparently bent on nothing more than kidnapping Alexa for what will clearly be prolonged abuse and brutal death. The madman also dispatches the family...but misses Marie, who manages, in several breathtaking scenes, to avoid detection. Her friend is whisked away, and Marie pursues.

Yep, it sure does sound like Dean Koontz's INTENSITY...at least up until this point in the story, which is about halfway. But it doesn't bother me, because the only American version of INTENSITY was a truly pitiful TV movie that had none of the grit and outright horror of the book. So a couple of French guys stole his idea...let the courts work that one out. Meanwhile, I got to enjoy that queasy feeling that only comes when a filmmaker steps over the line of commercial safe horror/thrills and into a pit of depravity. The killings are horrific and graphic, but not in the way that makes audiences giggle outloud (a la NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels or FRIDAY THE 13th, for example)...they are nasty, painful and almost enough to make you turn away or turn it off. This is NOT a feel-good movie...it is bleak, bleak, bleak. The low budget helps this aesthetic, and for American viewers, it probably helps that none of the performers are recognizable. They look more like real people than we are accustomed to seeing in glossy US films.

Many people have complained about the "surprise" ending. My only real problem with it is that the filmmakers foreshadow it just a bit too much for my tastes. I kinda saw it coming...granted, I forgot about that once the madman began his bloody work. The twist isn't terribly original, not does it stand up to scrutiny, BUT the twist doesn't keep the gory thrills from coming, and presumably that's the only reason we started watching in the first place.

The young actress who plays Marie is very good, in my opinion. She cuts quite a figure with her short hair and sinewy limbs. And the guy who plays the madman...well, I kept wondering if this guy would be able to keep his friends after they saw him in the movie...he's quite unpleasant, and believable.

The film does have flaws. The first death suffers with some poor special effects...but after that, they improve a great deal. Also, the events unfold the way they do only because no one in the house is awakened by family members screaming bloody murder...literally.

But it does create some HIGH TENSION, and has a heroine who doesn't make one stupid mistake after another...we can actually follow her logic from one move to the next. Sometimes we know more than she does, but at no time do we shake our heads in wonder at her stupidity. It's amazing how much of a difference that makes in enjoying a thriller. I recommend the movie, if the kind of gore and thrills I've talked about interest you. By the way, the DVD appears to default to playing the dubbed version. Avoid this...I watched about 1 minute of it, and greatly disliked it. The "American" voices were VERY poorly matched. I would select the "original uncut French version" and then be sure to select "subtitles" as well...this takes two separate selections.

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More High Tension (2005) reviews
review by . January 19, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****    Alexandre Aja's "High Tension" ("Haute Tension" in its native country of France) is the rare slasher flick that truly draws the line between the exploitation of violence and truly bloodcurdling suspense. Indeed, there is a high body count - and each and every one of those bodies is soaked in blood, mutilated, and perhaps even cut up a bit - but there is also the desire to make the audience wait for big events to unfold. That may seem like a bit of an uneven …
Quick Tip by . January 04, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
If you like your slasher movies not to make sense then this is THE movie for you. But make sure to watch it with the subtitles ON because if you don't speak French then you're going to try to make sense out of it. Better just read the nonsense and bathe in senseless sang du couchon or it could be real people blood, by the time you hit your blood limit you won't care.
review by . May 16, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Horror Retention
Just when I thought the Horror industry was in dire need of some great assistance, Aja delivered the goods & saved the day. In fact, he delivered them so well the film garnered an NC-17 rating which is quite impressive. thankfully, we are able to get this unedited version on DVD. High Tension has all the great elements which make a perfect suspense thriller or even great pyshcological Horror masterpiece. There's gore, edgy terror-filled scenes, & even repressed sexuality which works …
review by . November 09, 2008
High Tension (Unrated Widescreen Edition)
High Tension is for horror aficionados only, great cinema it is not. At a horror event, I received some very cool promo material for this movie and couldn't wait for it to come out on DVD. After a sweet titillation near the beginning (head jokes will roll), the movie slows down. Keep watching...it gets better.     Marie (Cecile de France) is invited to visit the French countryside by classmate and pal Alexia (Maiwenn le Besco) and stay with her family at their old French manor …
review by . August 27, 2006
Alexandre Aja takes us to a roller-coaster of horror in a movie that lives up to its name. "Haute Tension" keeps the tension to the max as we see a return to the visceral gory violence without being vulgar or void exploitation. In fact, the film manages to hold a perfect equilibrium between the elegance and beauty of French film-making and brutal grim horror of movies like Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".    Cécile De France plays Marie, who is visiting her college friend …
review by . February 07, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
After seeing High Tension you start to think why people were making such a big deal about Hostel because this movie goes crazy with the gore. The film was going in a good direction until the amazing but horrible end. The ending is lazy and you'll see what I mean when you see it. Basically your being leaded to believe one thing and that belief is ripped right from under you when they switch everything up. They give the story away very obviously in the beginning and I think they thought nobody was …
review by . February 06, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
After seeing High Tension you start to think why people were making such a big deal about Hostel because this movie goes crazy with the gore. The film was going in a good direction until the amazing but horrible end. The ending is lazy and you'll see what I mean when you see it. Basically your being leaded to believe one thing and that belief is ripped right from under you when they switch everything up. They give the story away very obviously in the beginning and I think they thought nobody was …
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Ranked #146
I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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Wiki

Home to some of the world's best food and fashion, the French also have the wonderful habit of producing some of the world's best movies. WithHigh Tension, French director Alexandre Aja offers up a bloody buffet of terror; a violent concoction of style over substance, with a bloody French twist. Two college girlfriends, Maria and Alex, take a weekend to study at the secluded country home of Alex's parents. Shortly after their arrival, a mysterious killer appears, and things take a shockingly terrible turn for the worse. As the horror and body count rises, Maria and Alex find themselves fighting for their lives, and it's revealed that things are not exactly as they seem. Essentially a one-act cat-and-mouse affair,High Tensionis an explosive bloody thrill ride that rarely lets up. Oozing style in every color-saturated frame and boasting some intense performances, Aja mainly succeeds in sustaining an intense momentum throughout the film. The plot occasionally suffers from a thin, flimsy storyline, and the abundant graphic scenes of violence will either thrill and delight, or simply disgust. Nonetheless, this adrenalin-fueled addition to the genre gives the American slasher flick a real run for its money.High Tensionis high-art horror, and comes highly recommended.--Matt Wold
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Details

Director: Alexandre Aja
Genre: Foreign
DVD Release Date: October 11, 2005
Runtime: 91 minutes
Studio: Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment
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