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, Maiwenn & Phillipe Nahon
2003/86 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
2.35:1 anamorphic/French/France/PAL Region 2
Review from the Optimum Home Entertainment DVD
You must all be familiar with HIGH TENSION by now... oups, I mean SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE (its the name it got in the UK). Its is without a doubt one of the best genre movies in years and a true return to the '70s type slashers and survivals. Two young woman, Marie (the beautiful Cecile DeFrance) 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 good. 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 was 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.
Sometime ago I reviewed the Thai edition which was unfortunately cut and missing a few seconds. Now at the time, only the way too expensive French edition was uncut... but not now because Optimum Home Entertainment have released this great movie in the UK... uncut! The anamorphic 2.35:1 image is very good with rich and nicely saturated colors, deep blacks and reds (always important in a movie like this!), and no sign of compression or artifacts. We get the choice of either a 5.1 Dolby Digital or 2.0 Dolby Stereo track. Both sound great but as you can expect the audio really shines with the 5.1 track. It is crisp, clear and gives Francois Eudes magnificent score all the audiophonic atmosphere it needs. Thankfully, the movie is presented in its original French language and features easy to read but burned in English subs. We also get an interesting English commentary track with director Alexandre Aja, Cecile de France and Total Film editor Jamie Graham. Aja gives loads of infos about the making of the movie and we can easily understand him and Cecile even if they are French.
Another important thing to note is that all the extras features English subtitles, which is always a plus. First we get three interviews, one with Philippe Nahon, then Cecile de France and finally Maiwenn. It last about 40 minutes in total. Cecile is without a doubt the most interesting of the three. There's also a cool interview with Italian special make-up effects master Giannetto de Rossi. He talks about his background, the movie and the cast and crew. In the 37 minutes 'Making-of" we follow the cast behind-the-scenes but most importantly Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur talk about their movie. We get the original French trailer, the awful English dub trailer and trailers for other Optimum Home Entertainment releases. The movie is separated in 24 chapters, comes in a tranparent keep case and with a Optimum Home Entertainment postal card. The animated and musical menus are among the best i've ever seen! A very good edition for a new classic!
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©
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