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High Tension (Switchblade Romance) (2005)

tomatometer

41

Average Rating: 5.2/10
Reviews Counted: 128
Fresh: 52 | Rotten: 76

There is indeed a good amount of tension in this French slasher, but the dubbing is bad and the end twist unbelievable.

46

Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 28
Fresh: 13 | Rotten: 15

There is indeed a good amount of tension in this French slasher, but the dubbing is bad and the end twist unbelievable.

audience

67

liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 47,938

My Rating

Movie Info

French filmmaker Alexandre Aja writes and directs the slasher film Haute Tension, given the English title Switchblade Romance. Best friends Marie (Cécile De France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) go out to the countryside to visit Alex's parents. However, a homicidal delivery man (played by Philippe Nahon from Gaspar Noé's brutal movies) ends up at their house and starts killing everyone. Alex and Marie fight for their lives with help from several means of weaponry. Switchblade Romance was shown at

Oct 11, 2005

$3.6M

Lions Gate Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (135) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (52) | Rotten (76) | DVD (25)

An extremely well-made, very grisly and ultimately dishonest slasher film that's too clever for its own good.

June 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper | Comment (1)
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director Alexandre Aja, who wrote this with Gregory Levasseur, doesn't have a gift for horror suspense so much as a compleat geek knowledge of all the superior scare flicks that have preceded High Tension.

June 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You have to give it to the filmmakers for their contempt of convention: no foreplay, no teasing, no steady buildup of dread, just a knock on the door and the slaughterer is there.

June 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A lame exercise, delivering shameless thrills at the expense of logic and genuine suspense.

June 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Very bloody, sometimes difficult to watch and sometimes just tiresome.

June 10, 2005 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is sick. And sickening.

June 10, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gory European gothic horror doesn't come any grittier and weirder than it does when a couple of would-be lesbian college girlfriends retreat to a weekend at the secluded farmhouse of one of their parents to study for their final exams.

July 2, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Disturbing, demented, gory and one of the best horror films I've seen in a while...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

The last three fourths of this film are basically like the last five minutes of Halloween -- total fear and total suspense.

June 18, 2008 Full Review Source: ESplatter
ESplatter

Haute Tension is like a French art-house essay on slasher-movie cliches, and as such is good nasty fun.

September 17, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

A cinematically sound but sub-par horror flick readied for the American mass market by the addition of English credits and some truly atrocious dubbing.

July 27, 2007 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews | Comment (1)
rec.arts.movies.reviews

If you're going to make a horror film, I'd recommend ensuring that a) it makes some logical sense, and b) it ain't really %#&* boring.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

In its best moments, the film is reminiscent of such seminal slasher pictures as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

It's a movie that needs to be seen by all horror fans because it serves as a reminder of just how good a "slasher film" can be.

January 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Dread Central
Dread Central

Haute bloodbath.

November 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

The French slasher High Tension definitely lives up to the promise of its title.

August 12, 2005 Full Review Source: Jam! Movies
Jam! Movies

An effective but pointless exercise in style (and gore).

August 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

A brilliantly made, shocking, refreshingly bloody...disappointment,

August 2, 2005 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

[S]imply a checklist of familiar gore effects pasted onto an unusually uninvolving story ... miss it, and you miss nothing.

August 2, 2005 Full Review Source: MTV | Comment (1)

In a remarkable turnaround, the film suddenly lacks the courage to stick with what it does best.

July 16, 2005 Full Review Source: Lawrence.com

What a nasty piece of business this movie is.

June 27, 2005 Full Review | Comment (1)
KWQC-TV (Iowa)

More terrifying than Go Fish but less terrifying than the EU Constitution.

June 26, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Snobs
Film Snobs

Questions of 'entertainment' value aside, High Tension boasts an improbability so humbling that a rational person quakes before it.

June 23, 2005 Full Review Source: F5 (Wichita, KS)
F5 (Wichita, KS)

a formally brilliant thriller ... Unfortunately, there's a third-act revelation that possibly spoils it by tacking on a needless and potentially offensive explanation

June 18, 2005 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

The language of contemporary hack filmmaking is universal, especially when it comes to the sight of women brutalized by a serial killer.

June 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

Nasty, ghastly French slasher flick's gut-churning tension is undermined by a head-scratching plot turn.

June 16, 2005 Full Review Source: Netflix
Netflix

Audience Reviews for High Tension (Switchblade Romance)

Part of the 'New French Extremity' movement, Alexandre Aja's 'Haute Tension' (High Tension/Switchblade Romance) is a heart-pounding horror that will have you at the edge of your seat...before slapping across the face for caring. Cécile De France plays Marie, a young woman who is on a business trip with her friend Alexia (Maiwenn). Whilst on their journey the two stop off at Alexia's remote family home, only to find themselves as prey to a demented killer.

Haute Tension is very effective for it's first hour, managing to continually crank up the tension without ever stopping for a break or feeling drawn-out. In this respect, the film is masterfully paced, with Marie jumping from one set piece to another in a fashion that doesn't feel as forced as other films of the same genre. Music and sound is also used incredibly well throughout the film, with flourishes being added to moments of potential dread and heightening the sense of unease. Aesthetically the film feels as if it is a homage to the exploitation films of the late 70s, with realistic yet over the top Craven inspired violence being at the centre of the films narrative.

With everything being said it would seem as if Haute Tension was set up to be a classic, and it would be, that's if it didn't effectively ruin itself in the last 20 minutes with a twist that felt tacked on ridiculous, and rendered everything before it pointless.

Verdict: It's amazing if you pretend a quarter of it doesn't exist.
December 2, 2013
Cameron Sherwell

Super Reviewer

In preparation for upcoming exams, co-eds Marie and Alex head out to the country home of Alex's family for a quiet weekend of rest and studying. Things start out well enough, but all that changes when, in the dead of night, an intruder comes lurking, plunging everyone into a night of unrelenting horror. This is apparently an unauthorized adaptation of a Dean Koontz book, but since it's one I'm not familiar with, I can only judge this one on its own terms...

...and in that regard, this is a gloriously awesome horror/suspense thriller. Yeah, it delivers the goods where the gore and mayhem are concerned, but this is also really appropriately named, since this film does have an extreme level of tension, suspense, and intensity. I'm not kidding. This is a real nail biter the vast majority of the time. The plot is pretty basic and bare, and there's not a great amount of dialogue, but I'm totally fine with this being a relentless cat and mouse affair.

The film does contain a huge plot twist, and it's one of the most divisive in recent memory. I'm mostly in favor of it, as it adds a whole new level of twistedness to the lurid story, and actually holds up pretty well. Yeah, it's not airtight, but most of it works without having to do too much stretching. A lot of people seem to hate it, but I rather appreciated the fact that it doesn't spoon feed everything. That's a rarity in general, but especially for an exploitation film like this.

co-writer/director Alexandre Aja himself even said that the plot really isn't important, and it's more about the mood, atmosphere, and tone more than anything. That's fine, and I applaud them for making the focus primarily on the building and maintenance of suspense. They are successful with that goal, but even then it's not a total excuse for a something with such a thin plot.

The film's art direction, set design, sound design, heck, all the technical stuff is wonderful. You really feel the chaos that the characters are going through. It's well shot, and, where the effects go, they are brilliant. The bloodshed isn't nonstop, but when it hits, it really delivers with some effectively gruesome effects that were superbly done practically by renowned effects man Giannetto De Rossi.

Performancewise, the cast do a solid job, conveying most everything through actions and what sparse dialogue here is, and in the case of the two female leads, I really gotta commend them for the expert manner in which they get put through the wringer and really deliver. Philippe Nahon is likewise quite creepy and effective, and proves quite memorable as well.

All in all, this is a fantastic film. It's not perfect, but it works a lot better than it should. It manages to both please gore hounds and those who love to gorge themselves on atmosphere and suspense. It also pulls off some great homages to the past while standing on its own feet, so definitely keep an open mind and give this one a go.
October 19, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

'Switchblade Romance' is a violent, cruel horror film that adopts the conventions from slasher films such as 'Halloween' and adds a psychological twist. Without giving anything away, I would say the twist can only be interpreted and explained in somewhat woolly terms, but one must remember they're viewing a film that is merely exploitation cinema.

I felt the film, though predominantly clichà (C)d, did manage to avoid becoming tired, its suspense was taut and relatively unpredictable. However, it only just managed it, it was a close call, those familiar with the slasher films of the 70s and 80s may feel 'Switchblade Romance' is just a bundle of rehashed themes. The film departs from its slasher relatives in respect to cruelty and realism; it has a gritty, unpleasant tone that is similar to 'Wolf Creek', the grisly Australian affair that appeared in 2005. Much like 'Wolf Creek', after it had finished I found myself asking 'Why? What's the point?' These overly sadistic, one track films leave me feeling rather hollow; they're a dose of visceral thrills that makes me question their status as 'entertainment'. I questioned why someone would want to make such one-dimensionally cruel films. The only purpose I could think of was how both films place the viewer in the 'What would you do if you were being stalked by a murderer?' situation, which indeed makes them a thoroughly engrossing, if stressful ordeal to watch.

Ultimately, 'Switchblade Romance' is a straight-forward endurance test that provides a decent amount of tension and gore, but its overall vapidity may leave you feeling slightly hollow by the end credits.
May 18, 2012
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

Over the years, France has turned out quite a few effective, chilling and gory horror films; High Tension directed by Alexandre Aja is such a film. An effective chilling film, High Tension is one disturbing horror film. Brilliantly effective at inducing shock, High Tension is a film that you won't soon forget. High Tension is a much different Slasher film, one that is very well conceived with atmosphere and suspense. The killings of course are very grotesque and violent. High Tension departs significantly the Slasher genre, but retains key elements of the genre. The acting displayed by the actresses is excellent and Cecile De France is definitely memorable as the lead character. High Tension is the perfect name for the film, as the tension level is pretty high. The film is one of the best horror films that I have seen in quite some time, and the French are becoming masters of horror in their own right. Like I said, this film is different from other Slashers, and I do not want to give anything important away because this is such a solid horror film. Gorehounds will love this film as much as the regular horror fan. This film boasts some very impressive kill sequences and though it is extremely violent, the film builds effective tension and suspense with a dreadful atmosphere mixed with great kill scenes, and you have a memorable horror film. High Tension is a terrific, well crafted horror film with excellent directing from Alexandre Aja. Without a doubt, this is one of the most solid foreign horror films in quite some time.
October 3, 2011
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

    1. Alex: The problem is, he's got a girlfriend he doesn't want to split up with.
    2. Marie: Why are you so interested, then?
    3. Alex: Someone who's taken must be worth it. I'm skeptical of single guys.
    – Submitted by Jaymz S (2 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • High Tension (Haute tension) (DE)
  • Haute Tension - Switchblade Romance (UK)
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