Sunday, October 23, 2005

High Tension (Haute Tension)

This film has finally made its way to our shores, uncut. For a slasher flick, it's bloody good, pun intended. If you've read me enough, you know that I'm a sucker for revenge films and zombie flicks. The occasional slasher flick appeals to me too, and this one doesn't disappoint, in the delivery of the material that is.

Two friends Marie (a very buff Cécile De France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) spend the weekend in the latter's farm home, to keep away from distractions to study for their exams. We are briefly introduced to the family members of Alex - the parents, the toddler brother and the family St Bernard, before the horror starts to set in the very same night.

As with slasher flicks, there would always be the lumbering and unstoppable psycho killer. In this film, it's a huge unkempt man in baseball cap and dirty overalls, armed with only a switchblade, bulldozing his way into the family home and slaughtering everyone in sight. We share in Marie's fear and attempts to conceal herself, which makes you wonder, in desperate moments like these life and death situations, what will you really do? The confusion and fear makes it all easy for Marie to think selfishly, but I suppose it's only human nature, and what more can you do, really?

In playing cat-and-mouse with the killer, we see the decapitations of various forms, stabs, creative use of improvised weapons, all soaked in tons of blood. If the film was edited, then a lot would have been lost, especially the impact of such senseless violence on defenseless persons. If one should compare with the recent release Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, the latter would be a leisurely stroll in the park in the violence and gore department. Perhaps it's closest cousin might be The Devil's Rejects.

Cécile De France shines in her role, as many in the audience could feel her fear, desperation, and new found courage. The film easily relied on her to pull the movie through its highly disturbing material.

The filmmakers could have left this as it was - brutal, senseless killings (hey, slasher flick, remember?), but in trying to have a one-up in making this a more psychological film with the slight twist at the end, somehow exposed a lot of gaping loopholes in the narrative storyline in retrospect.

So be forewarned, this film is not for the squemish and faint at heart. It's bloody brutal, the way slasher films are made out to be, and make no apologies for.

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