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Customer Review

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I won't let anyone come between us anymore...., 9 Feb. 2007
This review is from: High Tension [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
To be honest, I feel somewhat privileged to be one of the first people to review "High Tension" - it is unusual (and pleasant) to write on a subject that isn't either over-reviewed or, as is usually the case, under-rated. My only hope is that I do the film the justice it deserves...

The aptly named "High Tension" is the original French version of "Switchblade Romance". Briefly, "Marie and Alexia are classmates and best friends. Hoping to prepare for their college exams in peace and quiet, they decide to spend a weekend in the country at Alexi's parents' secluded farmhouse. But in the dead of the night, a stranger knocks on the front door, and with his first swing of his knife, the girls' idyllic weekend turns into an endless night of horror".

"High Tension" is a great film for three reasons. Firstly, as already hinted at, the film lives up to it's title. It is one of the only horror movies that I have seen in a VERY long time that has managed to strike the right balance between suspense and violence. During the scenes where the killer is searching the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque" house, I was (quite lierally) on the edge of my seat. On the other hand, there were times later in the film where I was shouting at the television (a very rare trait for me, the self-confessed horror fan), encouraging Marie to run away from the chain-saw wielding maniac. In my opinion, any horror movie that has you interacting with the characters, urging them to survive, has achieved the objectives it set out for itself. I am not suggesting that the film is perfect by any stretch of the imagination - there are parts of the story-line that are either unnecessary or confusing, given what happens later in the film (keep your eyes open for the decapitation in the truck at the very beginning and then ask yourself "why" this was included when you have watched the film). What makes up for these little inconsistencies, however, are the other subtle touches that give the film it's true meaning - check out the graffitti in the service station toilet that pronounces "je suis vivant" (translation: "I am alive"), appropriately placed just above Marie's head as she is hiding from the killer.

The second point worthy of note is the amazing twist at the end of the film. I drive my "better half" mad by predicting the killer in films and books, so he was relieved when I managed to get to within a whisker of the credits before I truly realised what was going on. Whether you have seen one horror film, one hundred or one thousand, quite simply, you won't see this ending coming. Better still, no matter whether you watch this film once, one hundred times or a thousand times, you still won't see the ending coming - back-tracking for clues (like we all did when we watched "Sixth Sense" the second time round) does not reveal anything additional to the plot.

The third notable point about the film is the exceptional soundtrack. I will hold my hands up and say that I am probably biased here because the main source of music comes from a band who I have seen live recently and who blew me away - Muse. Nevertheless, there are some catchy French tunes that, on seeing the film enough times, will have you singing away in French in the shower (though probably with no idea as to what you are singing about).

Without wanting to state the obvious, the only real draw-back of the film is that it is spoken in French, subtitled in English. I know one or two people who will not watch a film if it is subtitled, finding it hard to keep up ("Look away and you will miss the thread of the story-line"...). If you are inclined to shy away from foreign films for this reason, please give this one a chance - to be honest, there is very little in terms of conversation once the action gets going, and after the first five minutes of the film (when most of the dialogue takes place), you don't consciously realise you are following the text anyway.

Anyone inspired to watch this film because of this review, I am certain that you won't regret it. For those of you who have already watched the film and are looking for a piece of work that is similar to sink your teeth into - try "Intensity" by Dean Koontz.
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