Thursday, October 11, 2007

High Tension (2003)

For once, a movie lives up to its title. This is one tense, scary mother fucking ride. Unfortunately, Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes remake) throws in a twist at the end which makes absolutely no sense. Since I consider the journey to be more important than the end result, the movie wasn't really ruined, like remember that film Arlington Road? Shitty movie, but what a great fucking twist. This one's the opposite, so I like it more. Here, I was more like, "that makes no fucking sense" before reflecting back on the disembodied head fellatio scene. By the way, that scene has a completely different tone than the disembodied head cunnilingus scene in Re-animator. So, if you liked that one, it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to like this one. I'm not sick, so I didn't really like this one, but, still, I had trouble shaking it from my head. Anyway, enough about bodiless heads performing oral sex.

This is a french slasher film and probably the best of that particular genre. Marie (Cecile de France) and Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco) are classmates traveling to the french countryside to visit Alex's parents and to study in tranquility. It's pretty clear during the car ride that Marie has a major crush on the mostly straight, possibly bicurious I would assume, Alex. The house is, like most houses in these films, surrounded by miles and miles of cornfields. Alex's family seems normal enough. Dad stays up late paying the bills & mom walks around in a white robe asking if anyone is hungry. The young brother is suitably annoying. We know things are not right, however, when we cut to a guy "getting off" in a rusty old truck(if you've seen Jeepers Creepers, you will recognize the truck), on some road in those very same cornfields. It's hard to discern the source of his pleasure until he drops it (aforementioned head) out the driver side window. Here's a clue for you: Look closely at the face. Ok, this movie sounds pretty fucked up, huh? Who in their right mind would want to watch it. Is it at least played for laughs? No, this is all played extremely straight. That's what makes it so damned good. When our killer, simply named Le Tueur (the turd?) played by Phillipe Nahon (Irreversible; another royally fucked up movie I recommend you see once), rings the doorbell to Alex's farmhouse in the middle of the night, we know messed up events are about to transpire. I don't even know what to compare this one to. We could say Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but that one had an underlying sense of humor that this one clearly lacks.

This is edge of your seat, heart wrenching stuff. We've got a head jammed through a stairwell and then taken off with a bureau. We've got a grotesque throat slashing (though not on the level of Eastern Promises, this one still feels pretty real). We've got a concrete saw to the stomach of an innocent passing motorist. We've even got some barbed wire post face bashing. The last twenty minutes of the film involve the killer kidnapping Alex, with Marie following them, in an attempt to recover unrequited love, in a feverish assault on, well, I don't know, your senses? Unfortunately, there is that fucking twist again. It's such a terrible decision because without it, this picture is an out and out masterpiece. With the twist, we're left with a solid, terrifying horror film with a great maniac (Nahon). As it is, this one isn't quite as good as Aja's next film, The Hills Have Eyes (which might be the 2nd best horror film remake after Dawn of the Dead). Nahon is so good in this, so fucking scary (think M. Emmet Walsh in Blood Simple. Only eviler) that the twist just becomes more and more frustrating. I want a sequel, but now there can't logically be one, at least NOT one with Nahon. If you're not already aware of the twist I speak of, I hope I didn't give it away. This is still a balls to the wall scary, grotesque, shocking experience. Known in the UK as Switchblade Romance. I don't remember a switchblade ever being used or even spoke of, so maybe it's one of them metaphorical titles us simple folk in the states wouldn't understand. At the very least, watch this one if you were under the impression that the french could never scare you. I promise you'll either like it OR you will never talk to me again. I like those odds.

One more thing. If you're not into implied fellatio by a severed head, I'll just say (besides what the hell is wrong with you??) stick to the Rated R version.

5 comments:

Beepy said...

Okay, now we know where you stand on bodiless heads having sex, but what about headless bodies?

Sorry, I just saw the first Evil Dead movie last night...mmmm, three times...

brian said...

Nice. Evil Dead features the first tree rape scene in cinema history. So, you liked it?

Gianni said...

I actually liked Arlington Road, but maybe it was just for the twist, I dunno. Can't wait to see this one.

brian said...

watch it again Gianni. See if you are captivated at all until the end.

Beepy said...

yes, the rape scene was quite shocking. I was expecting the forest to drag her away like in Evil Dead II. Then when her arms were strapped down like that, I thought "no, they can't be going there..."

oh, and do you mean to say that there have been other tree rape scenes?