Got the screener for 'High Tension' last week, and finally watched it this weekend.
The first thing I should say is that this is a horror film in the old school tradition. No lame jokes. No comic relief characters. No winking at the audience by the director. No relief from the onslaught on the screen. Maybe because it comes to us from France (it is in English though), or maybe the director just didn't get his cookie cutter script from the major studios, but it was refreshing to have a horror movie that was, strangely enough, actually about 'the horror'.
The premise is simple enough, two young women (a blonde and brunette) head to a home in the country to spend the weekend with the brunette girl's family. Later that night a killer shows up who wipes out most of the family (in grisly fashion, lovingly rendered by the director) kidnaps the brunette to play with later (he is unaware of the existence of the blonde), leaving the second girl to try and stop the killer before he finishes off her friend.
For the first 4/5ths of the movie, High Tension rips along with demented sadistic glee - only at the end when we have the 'pay-off' twist ending, does it seemingly come off the rails.
Or does it? I know I saw the 'twist' coming from a hundred miles away (directors do foreshadow you know, and this one is no exception), so like 'Sixth Sense' the final revelation wasn't much of one at all for me. Some critics have claimed that the ending wrecked what was otherwise an excellent nasty bloodsoaked little movie. I have no doubt that these same critics never saw 'Fight Club' or 'the Machinist', or they were so intellectually bludgeoned by years of watching Michael Bay movies to put the pieces together themeselves.
In any case, the grindhouse character of the film will prevent it from ever achieving the same status as other less gruesome horror flicks, but if you have the stomache for some ultraviolence, and want a movie that will keep you rivited at the edge of your seat from start to finish - High Tension will do the job.