with Cécile de France, Maïwenn, Philippe Nahon
Directed by Alexandre Aja (Lion’s Gate)
by John Bikowski
Whoa! This movie rocks. Lion’s Gate has released this foreign gem the way it was meant to be seen: With all the depravity and violence that help the story hit its high marks. The DVD looks crisp and comes with various viewing options. There are also plenty of extras goodies, like documentaries and selected scene commentaries. I was told this was a remake of the Dean Koontz’s Intensity. On the surface, there are numerous similarities. However, High Tension departs from the Koontz tale in various directions, including a shocking twist I didn’t see coming (and don’t intend to give away).
The basic story focuses on Marie and Alexia who arrive at the isolated farmhouse that belongs to Alexia’s family. Little do they know that a scummy-looking gent is on his way to massacre the entire household. During his bloodbath murder spree, Marie hides in the guest room and the killer doesn’t even realize she exists. Alexia is beaten half to death, chained up and kidnapped, but not before Marie manages to sneak into the psycho’s truck. What ensues are some tense and creepy cat and mouse scenes that leave plenty of broken and battered bodies in their wake. I won’t say any more because you need to experience the film for yourself. Suffice it to say that the production values are solid, the filming is quite stylish, and the pace is frenzied. The effects are also brilliantly realized, courtesy of one of the masters of Italian ’80s horror, Gino (Make Them Die Slowly) DeRossi. Where’s this guy been?! The gore is wall to wall and looks very convincing. There’s some seriously sick stuff here: Oral sex with a decapitated head, buzzsaw eviscerations, massive knife and razor attacks, barbed-wire-bat beatings, and more. Throw in some masturbation and rampant lesbianism, and there you have it!