High Tension (2003)

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Trying out some new image editing but can’t get rid of that rating twitching – I’m guessing it’s just shaking from fear or something.

For those who happen to stumble upon this blog because of this post, keep in mind, I’m definitely not a horror person. When I was a kid, I was terrified of The Mask and that shit was funny so you can just imagine what real horror might have done to me! So for the longest of times, I have thought that horror is not a genre I will ever watch or let alone like. After watching High Tension, a French horror movie, with the most minimal amount of eye-hiding I’ve ever done, I realized – horror is not that bad.

Firstly, I find it a bit ironic that my first ever modern horror review (I sort of count Psycho as a classic review for BOT and not specifically a horror review) is about a French movie! I don’t know if you guys have noticed but generally when I review a foreign film it is most likely a French one, actually, 5 out of the 6 I have reviewed have been in French. Yes, I think I’m obsessed with French but it’s a coincidence, I swear. Anyway, French or not, High Tension was a horror movie with a scary bad guy and lots of blood – and I kind of liked it. Now, my low rating is probably connected with the fact that I’m not accustomed with this genre. So when it was time to rate it I went with my honest opinion compared with my previous horror movie experiences, which I don’t have, and decided to set the bar low – Justin Case. Besides, when it comes to the plot twist in High Tension, it didn’t really make sense in terms of logic and it felt a bit odd.

The plot begins with two friends, Marie (Cécile De France) and Alexia (Maiwenn), who are driving to visit Alexia’s family in the country side. They arrive and then everything goes as it probably always goes in horror movies – bloody and scary. Marie shows some great skills of hiding from the big-bad-scary-guy and almost manages to save Alexia a couple of times. Still, the bad guy ends up taking them both from the house on to a little road trip. A lot of things happen between there and the place where the bad guy finally sees his end but I won’t start spoiling the bloody fun. I will say this though, I kind of expected something twisty in the end, and not just because somebody told me about it, but because it looked very suspicious at times. Then when the twist was revealed it became a bit funny instead of creepy, who knows why, maybe I was in one of those moods.

haute-tension

Eventually, when the movie was all about the twist I was slightly disappointed because I didn’t really understand how it was possible. There were moments that made sense, sure, it was kind of cool how they tried to twist it – I really can’t explain it better without spoiling it – but as far as logic goes, it had holes. Certainly one could overlook them but if  I can’t even watch a romantic comedy without getting mad at the lack of logic, how would I ever look past a sophisticated attempt to twist a horror plot. I do applaud the idea though, with some more thought and logic it could have been good. What actually ended up being rather good was the horror aspect, at times, I was scared but like I said, I wasn’t hiding my eyes as often as I thought… so maybe it wasn’t that scary. The only scene that finally made me look away, I had that fear where something might jump out any minute, was in the toilets and well, after it was over I felt a bit disappointed.

What I did appreciate immensely in High Tension was the cinematography (Maxime Alexandre) and directing by Alexandre Aja. There were some great moments, one featured above with Marie’s face appearing from the dark and disappearing again. In terms of horror, I was surprised to see such elegant touches visually but then it got all bloody. Did I mind the blood? Well, I am not so against it nor do I enjoy it but the most disgusting scenes for me are the ones that have to do with pulling something out of somebody. When Alexia got a piece of glass stuck in her foot she of course had to pull it out, because that will stop the bleeding for sure, and that freaked me out more than a cupboard crushing somebody’s head. But then again, nothing will ever freak me out more than the paper-cutting in the Jackass movie – can we just take a moment and … nope, I can’t, just thinking about that white piece of paper cutting into the skin freaks me out.

Therefore, as I tried and failed to sound all posh and aware of the topic, I end my first modern foreign horror review on a more positive note: I will be watching more horror. Yes, there, I said it, and now I can’t take it back! With that promise I have most likely made my life even more difficult, because I do have BOT and my endless list of movies that I need to watch, but who cares, right!? I still have two solid months before my internship starts and that’s plenty of time to catch up with… everything.

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36 thoughts on “High Tension (2003)”

  1. Glad you’re expanding your horizons into horror, even though your first one wasn’t all that positive. I haven’t seen High Tension; based on your review, I think I’ll avoid it. I’m always a little leery of films that rely on a “twist” in the first place, and if it doesn’t make sense, as you say, then it’s pretty lousy.

    I’ll tell you right now, there’s a lot of really low-quality horror out there. It’s a genre that tends to attract first-time directors, since it doesn’t cost much to make but can easily turn a profit. So there’s a lot of it, and a lot of it is amateurish or outright bad. But there’s also some definite good stuff out there. The original Halloween is worth checking out, and Alien is a great sci-fi/horror film.

    1. You know, I think horror is funnier than Hollywood comedies! Yes, there, I said it, I think horror is funny! I guess my choices have been quite “bad” then if I consider it a pure humor fest but I don’t mind.
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Oh man, I remember working at the movie theater when this was playing. I walked in to do a check at the part where she’s like, furiously masturbating and I was like “what the hell?” That’s awesome your getting into more horror! One French horror movie that sticks with me is Martyrs. I wish I could un-see that. It was so brutal.

    1. It was in the beginning and I was questioning of weather I should continue or not.
      I will try to see more soon because I’m feeling the horror at the moment, some weird phase I guess.
      Thanks for the comment!

  3. Good review Ray. Without that idiotic twist at the end, this movie would have been amazingly awesome. But because it’s still there, it’s just okay with a dumb ending.

    1. As I’m no expert of horror don’t expect valid ratings for these.. I’m very hesitant of giving high marks in a genre I’m not familiar with.

  4. Can never go wrong with watching more horror. This is one hell of a horror flick and it’s directed so well. I love that most of the tension comes from your imagination. Like you said, you have a pretty big pile of movies added on now with the horror genre but if I could suggest another solid foreign horror film I’d say to check out “Frontiers”. It’s intense, I’ll say that much.

    1. I was surprised, it had some visually some very amazing scenes for a horror movie. But still, I’m no expert but it’s actually nice to throw oneself to a genre for the first time. Evil Dead trilogy is about to be enjoyed by me this Saturday! And I’ll add Frontiers to the list as well! 🙂

        1. Indeed, I got a long list of movies I had to watch before I could watch Cabin in the Woods according to my horror-expert-friend. 😀

        2. Hahah that’s exactly right. Evil Dead started that entire genre! I like your horror-expert-friend.

        3. He knows his stuff and I know to trust his words. So yes, I’ll be having a very horror filled April which seems to be going well so far! 😀

        1. Haha, well you threw out Frontiers so I thought I’d run with it! We love the same stuff dude and should force our love of the genre onto unsuspecting people 🙂

        2. LOL – I dont want to be that guy that whores out his reviews on other sites, but I have wrote my thoughts on them in you ever wanted to check them out to see what lies ahead. Spoiler free of course. We have listed 3 of the best horror films going though, not just in France, but 3 of the absolute best (and brutal!) 🙂

        3. Mentally writing down all the movies people are recommending. Already regretting this because I have more movies than I have time. 😀

        4. Just do what I do when I’ve got too many movies to choose from and go to Rotten Tomatoes and just watch the highest rated ones first. Win win!

  5. Though I believe horror is my most watched genre I’ve never seen this one. Probably because after seeing Frontiers, Martyrs, Inside and Livide I had enough of French horror flicks as they tend to have some of the sickest gory stuff out there. If paper cut made you so uneasy don’t watch Hostel. It’s not exactly paper cut scene but the shit that happens there is terrible.

    1. I have Frontiers in my list and I’m sure I won’t get tired of French as it is my favorite, I guess.
      Hostel.. I’ll see about that. I’ve seen Saw and that had some pretty awful stuff and yet, blood and gore doesn’t seem to scare me as much as a paper cut. Maybe I have a childhood trauma or something revolving around a fear of paper.. 😀

  6. Nice write up. You know, I really liked this film, and thought the twist was pretty clever and it worked for me. I added a couple of suggestions above to Ryans post, and I apologise as it seems everyone is throwing films at you now, but there are a lot of cool hidden gems in the horror world. I’m envious you get to watch a lot of them for the first time! Enjoy 🙂

    1. Hah, well, I’m maybe too spoiled in terms of logic and I need my twists to be either extremely smart or so well hidden that I won’t doubt them.
      Yes, I saw, all the recommendations are gonna get their own little folder and someday, oh someday, I will finish that folder! 😀

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