High Tension (Switchblade Romance) Reviews
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.
...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.
I felt the film, though predominantly clichÃ (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.
High Tension is aptly named. This French exercise in horror gets a tight grip on you early on, and doesn't let go. Fans of slashers and thriller movies will definitely be pleased with those aspects of High Tension. There are several scenes that are just exquisitely suspenseful, and it's violent and gory in exactly the right ways.
So why not an even higher rating? Two reasons. The first is that the movie isn't nearly as good on subsequent viewings as it was the first time around. This is directly related to the second reason, which is the direction the story takes in the final act.
Some people will be able to roll with it just fine, while others will feel that the plot takes an absolutely ludicrous turn. I couldn't really argue against either point of view. I think the movie might have been even better (and more plausible upon re-watching) if it didn't try to be quite so clever, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot the first time that I saw it.
If you're looking for more horror in the vein of a movie like The Strangers, you owe it to yourself to give High Tension a try. Just be aware that it's a pretty polarizing movie, and there's no telling which side of the fence you may end up on by the finale.
This film does indeed have a twist that adds to the ascending tension in a unique tale of terror.
First I'm going to justify the 1.5 stars.. the gore. Loads and loads of blood and mayhem. It is well done... very suspenseful and visually stunning.
Ok, lets forget about my morbid satisfaction in gory films.... This is an awful mess of a film. This movie primarily only builds suspense off the music and a semi-effective use of lighting. But it constantly switches between English and then French and then subtitled French, it was very irritating. Choosing one language and sticking with it would've made it seem more organized.
SPOILER ALERT! ... ok, I'm tired of this "twist"... she's the killer??? A damn schizo... AGAIN!!! I've seen this many times already. Where others mildly succeed, this one fails miserably because of huge plot holes. This twist completely betrays and contradicts everything that made up the first 3/4 of the movie. Some events are unexplainable due to this twist... the lack of clarity makes this movie (and its director) look stupid.
Unless you love sick, sadistic and over-the-top gory films, then throw back a few beers and watch this film without caring about what's really going on. You won't be disappointed because just about every scene is filled with gallons of blood.
Horror Not to Miss List Commentary:
THERE IS NO REASON WHY YOU SHOULD NOT SEE THIS FILM.
There was a fair amount of tensity to this film, along with a strong female lead, so many of these parts go to the typical 'bimbo' teen.
Somewhat corny, but a good movie for it's genre.
The slasher sub-genre of horror flicks seems to be truly the bottom end for no-talent hacks, like this Aja guy. Put every faceless-serial killer movie made from the last 20 or 30 years, mix everything from I Spit on Your Grave to every possible Friday 13 or Halloween flick, plus a plot-twist for the ages of stupidity (it's really that stupid) and you get this:
-The usual idiotic main lead that goes to the wrong places, takes all the wrong decisions that any human being with basic brain functions and comon sense would not take, and has nothing but "screams" as dialogue
-Put every slasher flick situation in the book, and repeat it by 10, killer appearing by surprise from behind? check, someone hidding in a small place from the killer? check. Jesus, there's even a scene where a car that was running like nothing doesn't start up again. Sorry mister Aja but i didn't start watching movies yesterday.
Of course of course, not every movie is suposse to be "new and unique" and i have nothing against a horror flick that wants to be nothing more than a simple thrill-ride. But at least have the frigging decency of actually trying. As neat and nice as the blood can be, it can't hurt to have at least one interesting character, or one interesting situation at all. Goes without saying that the director went to hollywood, where he keeps doing more generic crap.