High Tension: Not lackin’ any meat


Cast her as The Boss in the MGS3 movie \:3

Alexandre Aja, the guy who made his American debut with the delightfully demented and hawkish Hills Have Eyes 2006 remake, did High Tension, a little European number from 2003 about a tough chick who goes out to a friend’s country home for a weekend of relaxation. Being a horror movie, though it’s more of a thriller really, nobody gets to relax because the whole family gets killed by a psychopath, the friend gets kidnapped by said psycho and tough chick Marie has to rescue her. It’s a very simple 90 minutes.

The title High Tension is perfectly apt. A good 90% of the movie consists of tough chick Marie (who I describe as such because she sports a somewhat cute pixie haircut and her shoulders are broader than my own) evading the psycho in various situations and settings. This kind of set-up doesn’t lend itself to much dialogue and thankfully, there’s very little of it. No stupid one-liners, no exposition, nothing, almost like a silent movie. It’s refreshing to see a movie where the atmosphere just takes over and characters don’t yammer away for no reason. I’m looking at you, Silent Hill, with your “There’s a door here!” and “Use this to swing over!”

High Tension’s eerie soundtrack, sometimes interrupted by ironic European pop music (I guess), also augments the uneasiness very well. It’s cool to see where Aja honed his atmospheric lighting skills, confident camera and talent for tension, so this flick is worth seeing for that. The movie’s pure suspense and gore all the way, and the gore is some really impressive make-up work. Slit throats and severed limbs are so convincing I thought they had to be killing real people. I mean, it is Europe. Who knows WHAT they do over there.

Stuff like this, I guess

However, for a movie that would be perfectly fine if it was just the silent cat-and-mouse approach, there’s a twist towards the end that doesn’t work no matter how much you think about it. It’s such a fucking cheat with hints so vague you’d have to be Agatha from Minority Report to see it coming. Thematically, it sort of works, and makes Aja look even more like a conservative nut, but look at it logically, and physically… no fuckin’ way does it work. While the idea of such a betrayal is cool – shit, look at Psycho – it does not feel like it fits. Aja doesn’t repeat this mistake in Hills Have Eyes, because, let’s face it, no American would stand for that shit.



7 Responses to “High Tension: Not lackin’ any meat”

  1. Brian B Says:

    And if there is one person Hills Have Eyes was made for, it was Americans.

    The gore was very well done and realistic. As was the masturbation.

  2. kumquat Says:

    This sounds good to me. Plus, cute French chick with short hair. +5

  3. caciss Says:

    Yeah, I agree, the twist is good in theory, except for the making no fucking sense part.

  4. The Orphanage: GHOSTS ATE MY BABY « Grump Factory Says:

    […] at the end that doesn’t resort to making crazy shit up like other horror movies seem to. (High Tension, I’m looking at you.) And for a horror movie it’s able to whip up its share of scares […]

  5. Rick Says:

    I totally saw the twist for this movie. Not sure why, but I knew it almost from the beginning. I think it was the masturbation scene the girl undergoes over her friend, which is subsequently followed up by the girl being brutally raped by the “killer.” I also read a book a couple months ago called Intensity by Dean Koontz that, point for point, seems to be this movie EXACTLY up through the first half. The events that happen are so damned similar that I find it hard to believe that Aja didn’t rip off the idea and change it with the fucked up twist at the end just to avoid lawsuits. I dunno. But it FEELS like the same story until the halfway point.

    And I liked it. =3

  6. John Mora Says:

    But the twist ends up not making any sense given some of the events of the movies. Unless you can be in two places at once.

  7. Rick Says:

    And yet still I saw it coming. ;) I’m magical.

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