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Haute Tension

High Tension
Switchblade Romance

France 2003
produced by
Alexandre Arcady, Robert Benmussa for Alexandre Films, Europa Corp./Canal+
directed by Alexandre Aja
starring Cécile De France, Maiwenn Le Besco, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun, Andrei Finti, Oana Pellea, Marco Claudiu Pascu, Jean-Claude de Goros, Bogdan Uritescu, Gabriel Spahiu
written by Alexandre Aja, Grégory Levasseur, special effects by Giannetto de Rossi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Marie (Cécile De France) agrees to accompany her friend Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco), whom she seems to be attracted to in a lesbian way, to her parents' house deep in the countryside, to have some peace & quiet to be able to do some learning ... but all the dreams of peace & quiet are pretty much shattered in the first night, when a brutal stranger (Philippe Nahon) gains access to the house & bruatlly slaughters Alex' parents (Andrei Finti, Oana Pellea) & her kid brother (Marco Claudiu Pascu) & chains & gags Alex. Only Marie is able to escape him, above all because she was the only one who saw him coming & was thus able to hide on time, plus the killer probably didn't suspect someone else in the house ...

Meanwhile the killer has thrown Alexs into the back of his pick-up truck, but when Marie hops into the back too to free her friend (she can't), the killer, without even noticing her, locks her itnto the back as well ...

At the next gasstation though the killer stops to refuel, & Marie manages to hop out & tries to get some help from the clerk (Franck Khalfoun), but ultimately, he too is killed by the killer, & it almost seems as if he has all of a sudden noticed the presence of Marie too, as he seems to follow her through the gas stations hallways to the toilet ... but thank god, he only had to take a pee. Then he drives off again in his pick up, Alex still in the back ... & Marie is left behind.

Desperately Marie tries to notify the police, but her call is little more than hysterical staggering, which pretty much leaves the police with little to go on ... so Marie decides to take it upon herself, & she takes the gas station clerk's sports car & soon has caught up with the killer's old pick-up ... but soon, it seems, he has realized theere is someone behind him, somehow has Marie overtake him, & suddenly the prey that has turned hunter has turned prey again ... & the killer even manages to puch her off the road (which doesn't seem too convincing considering she had the much better & faster car, while his old pick up looks as if it would break down any minuite now). But Marie is not beaten, & soon builds herself a weapon out of a wooden post & barb wire which she ultimately uses to beat the kilelr to pulp, for good ...

Meanwhile the police has come to the gasstation after all, find the clerk's dead body, & play the surveillance tape ... which proves beyond a doubt that it was Marie herself who killed the clerk - the stranger was only a reflection of her (sexually) disturbed/repressed self.

In the meantime, Marie happily frees Alex happily, claiming it's over (& obviously a bit oblivious to the fact that it was her all the time), but for some reason, Alex doesn't share her happiness even though she is free again, & she fiercely defends herself against with a knife, which Marie has given her in the first place,. & in the end, Alex can even stop her cold with it. But Marie doesn't die, but it looks as if she would have to spend the rest of her life in the loonie bin.

 

This is not really a clever thriller, not even the surprise twist ending is quite as new as it might seem at first look ... nevertheless Haute Tension is a competent & relentless slasher movie which does put more thought than usual for this kind of film into the creating of genuine suspense, & also handles its suspense scenes in a more intelligent & comprehensible waqy, that goes beyont the usual suspense-by-the-numbers scare tactics of your usual Hollywood mainstream flick. Of course the continuous creation of suspense - & its frequent culmination into gruesome gore scenes - leave little room for much of a story ... but on the other hand, the film is called Haute Tension/High Tension, & this is one time the title doesn't lie.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD