Two female students, Marie and Alex, set off to Alex’s parent’s secluded homestead in the country to relax and study. Come nightfall, Hell pulls up at the front door. Alex is now bound and gagged, taken off, with Marie eluding the intruder. Can she save her friend’s life in time? Or is everything all that it seems…
Let’s start by saying that this film’s just awesome…until the last fifteen minutes! For the first 75 minutes, I was like “Oh yea!! Great stuff!!” Then it fell apart and I was like “What the hell?? Why?? WHY???!!!”
The brief intro begins as dream sequence of Marie’s. She wakes up into a cross between “Joy Ride” and “Jeeper Creepers” minus the creature. The road trip aspect is like Joy Ride, the killer’s truck is just like the creature’s truck in Jeeper Creepers. The title, High Tension, fits well because the tension of the victims, as the killer stalks them, is almost non-stop.
It starts out very much like Joy Ride, with the two girls (Marie & Alexia) driving in the country, all alone. They’re best friends, traveling to Alexia’s home in the country to study for college. Once they arrive, Marie meets Alexia’s family: father, mother, young siblings. Everyone goes to bed and a hot scene of Marie having “fun” with herself :) ensues. Meanwhile a serial killer, who kidnaps beautiful young women, plays with them a while before killing them, arrives in his meat wagon of a truck. The aftermath is very, very gruesome. He takes Alexia as his next plaything. Marie sneaks into the back of the truck and the killer drives off. The tension’s just begun! I had chills down my spine!
A few scenes later, it dies on me with an unbelievable turn of events. It’s too stupid to be good. This trend of twists started in “The Sixth Sense” FINALLY broke me down here. STOP!! STOP!! For the love of God, PLEASE quit with the stupid twists!! This one..GRR!! It’s beyond what words I can say. This movie was SO good up until this point that this change totally made it that much more excruciating to endure. Picture this: you’re making a spaghetti sauce. It turns out perfectly seasoned, it’s delicious. It’s just about done when, for some reason unknown to man, you think it needs a sprinkle of salt. So you pick up the salt shaker and start shaking it. All of a sudden, THE SHAKER TOP FALLS OFF!! The whole shaker of salt falls in AND RUINS the sauce!!
The story is simple but very tense. It’s purely character driven – that of Marie and the killer mostly. Cécile De France is a great actress here, sexy too, although her short hair didn’t look very good. She drove the movie almost solely by herself. The killer didn’t talk much but when he does, it kind of weakens his mystique. But his movements are good. He’s sort of reminds me of “Rusty Nail” in Joy Ride, except that his voice sucks. I need to tell you that this is a French movie so the voices are all dubbed…badly. Marie & Alexia are too flamboyant, too chipper. The killer’s voice is totally NOT appropriate here. I hope the French actor’s voice is better. If you can get past the funky dubbing, try it. If not, wait for a subtitled version.
The setting is perfect, first in the countryside, then at a gas station at night, then the woods. Now that I think of it, Dean Koontz’s “Intensity” had some of the same settings and scenes.
The gore? Not too bad for me but that’s pretty high for most others. If you’ve a weak stomach, you might want to skip this or have a barf bag nearby. There’s plenty of slicing, dicing, amputating, bone crunching, blood splattering fun fore gore seekers. Even some necrophilia tossed in for good measure! It kind of ruined my mood for Marie’s “finger dance” scene. Most of the SFX look pretty good but one scene with a decapitation looks cheesy. The blood looks fairly good but at times it looked too dry for having just been bled.
Overall, this could have been a great, classic right up there with TCM or Halloween. But it starts out running, only to fall flat on its face! On retrospect, it’s not very original. I see bits and pieces of at least four horror films utilized. The actress, Cécile De France, makes up for most of its clichés and flaws. Still, nothing can fix the ending.
It’s worth a view by horror/thriller fans.