Not too long after Haute Tension (2003) came out, the film’s name was translated to High Tension for its American festival circuit run. Some even know the film as Switchblade Romance, but it is most commonly known as High Tension. I believe that the DVD did not make it to video stores until around 2005 in the USA. I remember finding the film one weekend and renting the feature. Around this time a good friend of mine, who also loved horror films, encouraged me to watch it the evening I rented it. Not many films that he was extremely passionate about one watching, but after viewing High Tension this writer knew why this was one of those films.
High Tension is a film partially dubbed in English for the few words spoken within the film. Three Different in what way?different languages are focused on throughout the duration of the film. French, English, and a tad bit of Italian. The bits were other languages are spoken are available in subtitles. I cannot help but wonder why they bothered dubbing over the voices in English since subtitles were available. Hearing the emphasis of the original language accompanied by subtitles would have been more ideal. The sad part is that the studio behind the film obviously knew that dubbing the film would make High Tension more successful with an American audience.
High Tension is actually one of the reasons I became interested in watching foreign horror films. Granted, I have not been able to explore and find on DVD as of yet, but the ones I have are superior enough that having American remakes of the features. Thankfully there will be no remake for High Tension, just an amazing feature that all can rent for their viewing pleasure.
The film follows quite an interesting plot. The film starts out with a rather odd sequence of events only to reveal two college friends, Marie (Cécile De France) and Alexia (Maïwenn Le Besco), making their way to Alexia’s country home. The two friends plan on spending a couple of days away merely trying to get a mini vacation and away from all the responsibilities that college can bring. Although the two young woman arrive late, Alexia’s father gives the girls a warm welcome and makes sure the ladies make it to their appropriate rooms.
However, as comfy and cozy as the house appears to be the outside, soon after their arrival, and in the middle of the night, a sadistic murderer manages to break into the farmhouse. A murderous rampage occurs throughout the house and outside the house upon family members attempting to save themselves from this sick and twisted killer. Not even the family dog is safe within the household. Instead of killing Alexia, the depraved psychopath kidnaps the young woman.
Upon finding her friend, Marie promises that she will help her friend and promises that despite what has occurred within the home there is no need for Alexia to give up. Marie will figure out a way to save her friend. Hiding from the deranged man, Marie soon finds herself chasing the man who has kidnapped her college friend in an attempt to not only save her friend, but also reveal her family’s murderer. The great part of High Tension is just when one thinks they have the film figured out there are more twists and turns. One truly has to pay attention from the very beginning of the film to the end to capture the entire plot in all its glory.
The acting this film is spectacular. From a scene earlier on in the film to establish no good is to come from this trip to the various actresses within the feature, High Tension produces high caliber performances. The two actresses this writer is choosing to focus on are Cécile De France and Maïwenn Le Besco.
Let me start first with Le Besco. If this was a situation that I had to endure my faith would become beyond tested. In many ways the situation seems beyond hopeless that the fact she even continues to fight knowing what has occurred to her family is something else. In the same vein, this writer also has to admit as hopeless and faithless this would make me feel, yearning for revenge would be enough to get me by. Fighting extremely”really and truly does become the only option for this woman who has lost everything.
Then there is the acting of De France. To know that all these murders are going on around one and knowing that your best friend’s life is in your hands is enough to make anyone panicked. As she makes her way throughout the film, one realizes just how much fight she has in her, which is far more than anyone can even remotely imagine.
Despite the fact when I originally started, I had not intended on mentioning Le tueur’s (Philippe Nahon), The Killer’s, performance, now this writer feels weird not mentioning the performance. The fact of the matter is this mad truly depicts a sick and twisted soul buried deep inside of someone’s psyche. One learns quickly there are no redeeming values for the murderer.
Overall, High Tension is one of the best horror films I have ever seen. This is saying a lot considering there is some obscene number of them I have seen in my life thus far. The ending alone is worth watching the entire film. People who are going to say that this proves the flaws within the film the most, but I disagree. People are always willing to underestimate others in certain situations like ones that are brought up in High Tension. The film keeps viewers on edge the entire time. As I watched in the comfort of my bedroom, I found myself wedging my body into the various surrounding pillows. There was no pulling up of covers not to view certain scenes, despite the extreme amount of gore and blood within the majority of the film.
High Tension is not just another horror film to dismiss. This is a film a horror fan should watch over and over again because the film is that well made. There’s so much intelligence within the script and the filming, which creates a movie that is highly suspenseful and extremely edgy. There are not many horror films that can say that is the feeling represented from the very beginning of the film until the very end.
Audiences grow to adore both Marie and Alexia within the film. We want to know what happens to these two girls. Does the killer who has butchered everyone Alexia loved get caught? There’s only one way to find out because I refuse to give any of the important details away. High Tension might not be for the faint of heart, but the film is for horror fans who loves suspense and a killer twist with their blood and guts.