Horror films have gone thorough
various stages of "imitation is
the sincerest form of flattery" over the years. From the slasher
movies of the 1980s that were spawned from 1978's Halloween to the post-modern
horror films of the Scream era, when one film breaks new ground, ten more
try to repeat the same formula -- usually with less-than-stellar results.
Now, it seems, horror is in the M. Night Shyamalan "twist-at-the-end,
no matter how plausible" era. High Tension, a French horror movie
made in 2003 but released theatrically in the States in the summer of
2005, is one example of building a movie around a twist ending and forgetting
to include a thread of plausibility in the process.
Starring: Cecile de France, Maiwenn Le Besco,
and Philippe Nahon
Marie (Cecile de France) and Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco) are two young college
students who travel from school back to Alex's parents farm in rural France.
Intending to spend their break time studying for finals, the pair arrive
late one evening with nary a chance to introduce Alex's family to Marie
before they all retire for the night. Soon after the lights are out, a
truck pulls up the driveway and a man (Phillipe Nahon) jumps out and rings
the doorbell. Alex's father answers the door and is promptly murdered.
The killer enters the home and begins offing the family, while Marie hides
in her upstairs room undetected.
Alex is tied-up, but not harmed. Marie finds her while the killer chases
Alex's young brother outside into a cornfield. Vowing to save Alex, Marie
attempts to call the police but, of course, the phone line has been cut.
Marie eludes the killer's sight once more but Alex is put into the back
of the truck to be transported somewhere, presumably to have awful things
done to her. The killer makes one last sweep of the house, making sure
he's killed everyone else. While he's busy, Marie tries to free Alex from
her bindings, but ends up getting stuck in the back of the truck with
Alex as the killer drives off with both of them.
Their next stop is a gas station/convenience store where the killer has
to fill up the truck with gas to get to the as-yet-undisclosed location.
Marie manages to get out of the truck but instead of making a big scene
to alert the authorities, she tries to hide in the store and fails to
tell the cashier what's going on before it's too late. The cashier is
murdered and Marie is forced to hide yet again. Marie's pattern of not
confronting the murderer and also making really stupid decisions continues
until the movie's big twist. As much as I want to, I will not spoil this
poorly conceived plot device other than to say it's so implausible that
it made me feel silly for even wanting to know how the movie would end
in the first place.
Rivaling the gore levels found in Dead
Alive and Evil Dead, High Tension,
however, comes nowhere near being as inventive as those films in terms
of plot, style, or humor. It's one big ugly exercise in stupidity.
(This review is based on the original French language Director's Cut
found on the DVD.)
de France trained with a Thai boxer to get in shape for her physically
demanding role. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)