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  •  REVIEW: HIGH TENSION

    High Tension

    Comedy of terrors

    The American-influenced French film "Haute Tension" is competent and suspenseful, but ultimately does little more than extend the running joke that is the slasher flick.

    By JOSHUA TANZER
    Offoffoff.com

    I can't think of a better review of "Haute Tension" than the one given by the guy sitting behind me in the theater. I quote:

    "HAHAHAHA! OH SHIT! HAHA!"

      
    HIGH TENSION
    Original title: Haute Tension.
    Directed by: Alexandre Aja.
    Written by: Alexandre Aja, Gr使ory Levasseur.
    Cast: C残ile De France, Ma婦enn Le Besco, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun,, Andrei Finti, Oana Pellea, Marco Claudiu Pascu, Jean-Claude de Goros,, Bogdan Uritescu, Gabriel Spahiu.
    Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre.
    Edited by: Baxter.
    In French with English subtitles.
     RELATED ARTICLES
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  • Overview

    Reviews:
  • American Beer
  • Easy
  • Evergreen
  • Haute Tension
  • San Francisco Independent Film Festival 2004
  • Overview
  • A Certain Kind of Death
  • interMission
  • Haute Tension
  • Official site
  • Somehow there's no such thing as a horror movie anymore — the whole genre has turned into a form of latter-day slapstick. Why are people laughing at a movie like "Haute Tension," with its severed body parts and lovingly splattered crimson corn syrup? Because it's a big joke. Whatever you saw last summer, whether it was the tongue slicing or the power drill through the forehead, somebody's already thinking up something nuttier for this year.

    Enter Alexandre Aja and Gr使ory Levasseur — a young French director and writer with a good enough command of the horror schtick to have lined up their next project with Wes Craven. Their "Haute Tension" ("High Pressure") has moments of undeniable suspense, but in the end it boils down to just another schlocky exercise in finding new ways to show people being sliced into little bleeding pieces.

    High Tension  
    Among the candidates for being sliced into little bleeding pieces are Marie (C残ile De France) and her onetime schoolmate Alex (Ma婦enn Le Besco), who has invited her out to the family's country home for a couple of nights. Little does either of them suspect that another visitor — the burly driver of a rustbucket delivery truck who keeps unspeakable mementos of the yokels he's killed along the way — is lumbering in the direction of their little slumber party.

    There are some undeniable "high tension" moments as the bad guy, whose face is kept obscure for most of the picture, wreaks doom upon this house and attempts to chase down the last survivors. But something is still wrong. Like almost everyone who's made a horror movie in the last twenty years, these filmmakers go for the "HAHA! OH SHIT!" reaction instead of some truly human reaction. Thinking up new ways to sever someone's head (in this case, one involves a staircase and another involves a circular saw) has become like thinking up a new one-liner for Letterman, meant only to titillate us with its novelty. Ha ha. Oh shit. Ha. Next.

      High Tension
    Maybe horror is not a genre — what we call horror movies boil fundamentally down to either of two things: bad comedies or good tragedies. And what makes the difference is this — did the filmmakers put their energy into making you believe in the blood or in the people?

    Aja and Levasseur are the blood-first kind of filmmakers. Their characters are given no actual human qualities except two: 1. The desire to go on living instead of becoming human tartare. 2. The hint of sexual impurity of the sort that gets horror-movie characters slashed to death. If they weren't exceptionally well acted by the two lead actresses, you'd know the movie was a joke from the first frame.

    The film ends with a logically impossible final twist — somebody would have to be in two places at once, to say the least, for the story to make sense. Speaking at the end of a festival screening, the filmmakers insisted that was okay because what they're showing is the story as the deranged killer would tell it. Audience members, who seemed to enjoy the show overall, still didn't seem to buy that excuse. In the end, Aja and Levasseur seem like talented dilettantes, quite competent in the scene-by-scene mechanics of the slasher movie, but too in love with fantasies of human mutilation to get the details right.

    AUGUST 24, 2004
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on High Tension:

  • [no subject]   from jennifer alias la bulle, Sep 30, 2004
  • i can't miss it   from angeline, Feb 16, 2005
  • the 3   from Sid, Jun 2, 2005
  • Re: the 3   from crazyplantguy, Jun 23, 2005
  • Plot Holes / SPOILER   from Steve, Jun 8, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from Johannes, Jun 10, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from joeyj, Jun 10, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from SuperMario, Jun 11, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from joeyj, Jun 12, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from Joshua, Jun 12, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from Paige, Jun 12, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from Lake, Jun 13, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from joeyj, Jun 14, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from crazyplantguy, Jun 23, 2005
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from Sam, Mar 28, 2007
  • Re: Plot Holes / SPOILER   from Brian, Mar 2, 2007
  • Big Plot Hole   from Wormina, Jun 11, 2005
  • Re: Big Plot Hole   from crazyplantguy, Jun 23, 2005
  • Re: Big Plot Hole   from Austin, Nov 28, 2005
  • Re: Big Plot Hole   from bleedingeyes, Dec 30, 2005
  • Re: Big Plot Hole   from Sam, Mar 28, 2007
  • Re: Big Plot Hole   from , Mar 15, 2006
  • Re: Big Plot Hole   from , Apr 12, 2006
  • Re: Big Plot Hole **SPOILER**   from C.J., Sep 2, 2007
  • song   from jaime calderon, Jun 19, 2005
  • So HOT   from ashley, Jun 24, 2005
  • that is verry   from christina, Aug 10, 2005
  • [no subject]   from , Aug 27, 2005
  • [no subject]   from Kadeem Ceasor, Oct 5, 2005
  • way too much time   from T, Oct 21, 2005
  • Wow   from Peetie, Nov 5, 2005
  • HIGH TENTION   from CHARLIE, Dec 19, 2005
  • Pretty Good and that's Good   from CharlesTMelvin, Jan 11, 2006
  • Fun Stuff   from Dorn, Feb 12, 2006
  • awsome   from Jessica, Mar 8, 2006
  • The hills have eyes is a snuff film   from Paul, Mar 11, 2006
  • Re: The hills have eyes is a snuff film   from Lou, Jun 14, 2006
  • if you gonna see it...   from vik, Oct 9, 2006
  • Solid entertainment - SPOILER   from finn, Nov 16, 2006
  • internal logic   from Evilin Garnett, Dec 22, 2007
  • Rip off of Dean Kuntz novel   from amy granberg, Sep 1, 2009

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