" Intelligent and entertaining, it was one of the best survival horrors we'd seen in quite a while…until the end, when it quickly jumped to sucking ass. "
Title: High Tension by Lion's Gate
Format: Horror DVD
Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult
The Hype: With American horror growing more and more stale, Hollywood has been looking oversees with increasing frequency for the next nail-biting hit. High Tension, an independent French flick that earned big praise in the festival circuit. But are we looking at the next Texas Chainsaw Massacre or yet another Blair Witch? Read on, and find out.
What This Monkey Thought...
Essentially a straightforward
survival story, High Tension is the tail of two college girls who, on a study
break to the family farm, are besieged by a knife wielding maniac with a taste
for truly twisted sexuality. He kills the family, kidnaps one of the girls,
and sends the other on a desperate plight to save her friend before the near-unspeakable
happens to her.
Gritty and intelligent, most of the tension in High Tension comes from the subtle duel between the psycho and the heroine. Something like a cross between a runaway train and a chess game, she spends most of the movie desperately trying to maintain both her distance and her own existence while shadowing the madman as he drives away with her best friend, desperate to find some way to get help.
What makes the movie work is the high level of character acumen (neither the heroine or the killer make much by way of stupid mistakes) combined with the overall simplicity of the narrative: there is no ludicrous supernatural element, bizarre absences of reality, or gimmicks…which leaves only an almost generic bad guy, a very scared girl, and the delicate dance they're involved in.
It's an awesome ride…until the end. Undoubtedly spurred on by the rash of recent "twist endings" in mainstream movies, the filmmakers inexplicably feel the need to add a totally uncalled for, and ultimately idiotic, surprise ending that is as unneeded as it is nonsensical. So much so that it made everyone during our screening pause, stare at each other, then begin belting questions and continuity errors with lightning speed. But, ultimately, it's still a good movie as long as you turn it off ¾ of the way through.
|Intelligent and entertaining, it was one of the best survival horrors we'd seen in quite a while…until the end, when it quickly jumped to sucking ass.|
The Good: Smart, tense, and dirty.
The Bad: The ending's a surprise…mostly because of how little sense it makes.
The Overall Ugly: It's still worth your time, just prepare for the suck of the hole you end up in.
What it's Worth: Rental