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Haute Tension/Switchblade Romance (2003) - Alexandre Aja

Related: French film - horror film

High Tension (2003) - Alexandre Aja [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

High Tension (2003) - Alexandre Aja [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Haute Tension, also referred to as Switchblade Romance in the UK and High Tension in the USA, is a French slasher film originally released in France during 2003, later released during 2004 in the UK and 2005 in the USA. The film, directed by Alexandre Aja, stars Cécile De France, Maïwenn Le Besco, and Philippe Nahon.

High Tension was picked up by independent distributor Lions Gate Films following a successful screening at the "Midnight Madness" section of the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. Originally rated NC-17 in the USA, a few minor shots were cut from the final version of the US release to get it down to the R rating: this included a blow-job decapitation scene and the aftermath of a bookcase decapitation.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of this film is its incredibly visceral nature. Eschewing the current fad for computer generation, all of the effects are created by renowned horror make-up artist Giannetto De Rossi, a favourite of late director Lucio Fulci, whose work serves to enhance the disturbing nature of the film.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haute Tension [Feb 2006]

Switchblade Romance opens with a series of vicious cuts between two plotlines that are destined to collide. A rusted delivery van barrels through cornfields under the moonlight; meanwhile, Alex has brought her friend Marie to spend the weekend at her parents’ country farmhouse to escape the hectic pace of Paris. Behind the van’s wheel, the brutish driver caresses ripped photos of young women; as they get ready to bed down for the night, girlish gossip reveals the differences between the two friends’ likes and dislikes in boyfriends. As the girls close their eyes, an intruder is about to turn their innocent dreams into a relentless and bloody nightmare.

Switchblade Romance is not pretty Philippe Nahon, the disturbed butcher from Gaspar Noé’s Seul contre tous, rips through the screen as the hulking serial murderer, while the fresh-faced Cécile de France and Le Besco work against the “helpless” stereotype often found in the genre. Step aside, squeamish world cinema enthusiasts: Switchblade Romance will drag your beating heart by its singed nerve endings, and prove one of the most brutal horror films of the new century.” – Colin Geddes, Toronto Film Festival [Oct 2004]

Summary: High Tension
"Haute Tension" is one of the best horror films I have seen in years. It is appropriately gruesome and shocking and does not take the wise cracking, action movie based horror movie approach that so many recent horror films have taken. The film is well made and paced and builds up the suspense to a crescendo and does not overstay it's welcome. One would have found it unusual for French cinema to be the one to revitalize the horror genre which has become hackneyed and trite in Hollywood (so many want to refer to it as psychological thriller). The story follows 2 college co-eds visiting the homestead of one of the girl's family on a school break. A mysterious man in a mechanic jumpsuit and old truck (reminiscient of the one in "Jeepers Creepers")comes to the house in the night and brutally murders the family, kidnaps the girl and overlooks her friend who has to pursue the killer to rescue her friend. Director, Alexander Aja, does not make a pedestrian, light weight horror film and the deaths in the film are disturbing and brutal. There is no humor or comic relief and the blood literally soaks the camera lens. The sense of dread and the unrelenting suspense and pace makes this a refreshing breath of fresh air from all of the PG-13 rated "Scream" wannabes that have been hitting the multi-plexes. Wes Craven had reportedly seen "Haute Tension" at Sundance and has hand picked Alexander Aja to remake "The Hills Have Eyes" and have free artistic licence since Craven had pegged him as the "future of horror." There is even a plot twist which you will either love or hate but it fits in well with the film. The performances by Cecile de France, Maewenn and the actor who portrays the killer are perfect. All in all, this is a French film that deserves to be seen in American multiplexes and a must see for horror movie fans the world over who have been having to settle for mediocre horror for many years now. --gjung01 via http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338095/ [Oct 2004]

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