Directed by Alexandre Aja
Screenplay by Alexandre Aja & Grégory Levasseur
Photography by Maxime Alexandre
Music by Francois Eudes
Edited by Baxter
Fx by Gianneto De Rossi
Cast: Cecile DeFrance, Maiwen & Phillipe Nahon
2003/86 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
2.35:1/French/France/NTSC Region 0
Review from the ? DVD
Two young woman, Marie (the beautiful Cecile DeFrance who've we've seen recently in L'AUBERGE ESPAGNOL) and Alex (Maiwen) are about to spend the weekend at Alex's parents house in the middle of nowhere. Both are looking to escape the stress of living in Paris, take some time to relax and study. Almost as soon as they arrive, a man (a chilling performance from Nahon of SEUL CONTRE TOUS fame) driving an old rusty truck is at the front door, breaks in and slaughter every poor souls except for Alex now bound and gagged for which he keeps as a prize. Surprisingly he doesn't know of Marie's presence in the house. From there we follow Marie who first tries to leave the house alive but when she finds out that the man takes her friend in his truck and drives away she now attemps to rescue her.
While films like HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, CABIN FEVER and WRONG TURN pretend to be a return to the horror films of the '70s, Alexandre Aja's HAUTE TENSION really delivers the goods. Aja knows the genre and knows how to make an effective, haunting and chilling slasher. The film slowly but perfectly builds itself, every little details is nicely executed. The cinematography by Maxime Alexandre is simply amazing, making great use of lightning, framing and colors saturation. The musical score by Francois Eudes gives the film all the audiophonic atmosphere it needs and who ever though that a song from France's own version of Tom Jones - Claude Barzotti, could turn out to be so chilling! Famed Italian fx guru Gianneto De Rossi pulls out some great old school murders sequences with amazing special make-up effects. Cecile DeFrance gives a very good and charismatic performance as Marie but it is Phillipe Nahon as the viciously strong murdered who once again show us just how great of an actor he is.
HAUTE TENSION is without a doubt one of the best films of 2003. This film is thankfully without any easy in-jokes... it is raw, grim, slick, renlentless, ruthless and no bullshit horror at its best. My only complain is that even though it works very well within the film there's a twist near the end which was unnecessary but these days it seems like every film needs to have a twist in it. Still, along with the amazing Korean flick A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, this was horror in 2003.
The edition I am reviewing is from Korea and because I can't read Korean I have no clue as to who released this edition so excuse me for this. Another thing, after doing some research I can confirm that this edition of the film is cut of about 1 minutes but don't let that take you away 'cause apart from the killing of the father every other murders are onscreen still we do see the killing of the father once again at the end of the film... those who've seen the film will understand. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and features an amazing transfer with rich and perfectly saturated colors, no artifacts or compression of any sort but there is some grain in the film but it was filmed that way because of the stock use was sensitive to grain, giving the film even more of a '70s look and feel. There is two French audio tracks, one in 2.0 Dolby Surround and the other in 5.1 Dolby Digital. The 5.1 track is loud and crystal clear making the audiophonic experience of the film all the much better and Eudes' score shines through it. There is some easy to read white English and Korean subtitles. As far as extras goes, there is a Cast & Crew bios in Korean only, "About the Film" is also only in Korean, there's a very poor "Photo Gallery" which is simply some capture screens from the film and we get the rather effective but unfortunately awfuly dubbed English trailer as SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE.
The disc features some very standard animated menus, only a mere 10 chapters, a nice 4 pages booklet (in Korean only) and comes in a keep case. The most important thing about this edition apart from the very good transfer is that it is coded NTSC Region 0 so you don't have to wait until Lions Gate to release this one in late 2004 and surely to be dubbed (oh my!). A two disc special edition was released in France with loads of extras including a commentary track with Aja, features on De Rossi and more but no English subtitles.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©
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