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Haute Tension- outstanding new horror gem!


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#1 of 68 OFFLINE   Justin_S

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Posted February 23 2004 - 05:58 PM

I just saw this new French horror film several days back, and it really blew me for a loop. Anyways, Lions Gate owns the rights for a US release, but no release date has been scheduled as of yet. Anyways, here is my review of this fantastic film:

Haute Tension is the tale of two college friends, Alex and Marie, as they take a break to have some fun and study at Alex's family's secluded, isolated home in the country. Before long, a maniac pulls up to the house, and when he gets inside, nobody is safe. He takes Alex hostage, and Marie, who escaped his notice, has to try and come through for her friend while keeping herself alive in the process.

Haute Tension is a spectacular gem that, unlike some other films that have been called such, truly is a throwback to the 70s. The film is relentless in its pacing, and we are almost immediately thrust into the nightmare at the film's core. Every single frame of this film is so well done, and the cinematography is jawdropping. Seriously, this film is a technical marvel. There is a decapitation so breathtraking, so perfectly executed, you'll have a hard time believing it isn't real. Gianetto de Rossi's gore effects are some of the best I've ever seen. The gore is also quite nasty, and really gives the film a lot of its 70s style mood.

Don't get things wrong though, Haute Tension is much more than just a mere slasher/gore extravaganza. It is a film that demands attention, and one that people need to have patience with. If not, there are several little things that you will miss, believe me. These little things are so well sprinkled throughout the film, its truly a joy to keep an eye out for them. The film is also extremely suspenseful. It had my heart racing at times, and I was glued to the screen completely enthralled by the thought of what might happen next.

The actors in the film all did magnificent jobs, and their characters are a huge part of what makes the film the gem it is. Cecile de France's Marie comes across as a soft, yet strong willed girl who experiences a newfound bravery when all hell breaks loose. The fact that her friend is in dire trouble only enhances her feelings on the need for her frightened, yet ultimately couragous actions. Philippe Nahon is very menacing as the maniac. He looks downright evil, and his hulking presence is beyond intimidating. He plays the part very well too, coming off as a truly psychotic sadist. Maiwenn Le Besco is fine as the tortured Alex. You can really see the sheer terror in her eyes, and she plays the victim so well, so convincingly.

The ending is very overwhelming, not to mention bizarre. It really makes you think, and in my opinion, that's a great thing. The ending doesn't seem to fit at first, but I found myself thinking back to earlier instances in the film, and I finally realized that the ending makes perfect sense. I think it was a wonderful and fitting ending to an outstanding work of horrific art. You do have to think though, not everything is spelled out for the audience like so many American films feel the need to do. As I said, this film requires your full attention.

Quite frankly, this is is a spectacular little film that really blew me away. Not only was it executed so well on every level, but it was also a tense, edge-of-your-seat film full of kinetic energy and gruesome imagery, all topped off with a true feel of intelligence behind the script. Great film, highly recommended!

#2 of 68 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted February 24 2004 - 04:16 AM

How much gore can there be in a film with 3 characters? A couple messy deaths and you're out of raw materials.
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#3 of 68 OFFLINE   Brook K

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Posted February 24 2004 - 05:24 AM

If you've seen Funny Games, you know there can be quite a bit. Posted Image
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#4 of 68 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted February 26 2004 - 05:44 AM

Here's my review:

http://www.hollywood....5&reviewer=128

Saw the thing at Sundance. Fun stuff...but the ending makes NO sense. I liked the twists, but they're kinda wacko.

#5 of 68 OFFLINE   Ross Williams

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Posted April 14 2004 - 04:00 AM

Based off this review: http://www.joblo.com...autetension.htm - I watched this, this last weekend. One of the best horror films I've seen in a while. There are only a few deaths, but they are extremely gorey. With one also being extremely satisfying. A very well done film all around, with some great tense moments. Good acting, with some characters that you're actually sad to see die. And I've got to disagree with Scott, I thought the ending made plenty of sense. It throws you for a couple minutes, but if you think back, it really does work.

This is available in region 0 format, I rented it from the great Scarecrow Video here in Seattle, but you can find it to buy online as well.
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#6 of 68 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted April 14 2004 - 04:20 AM

Gee, Ross....

I should think about the movie before reviewing it?

Hmmm. I'll try that next time.

The twist ending makes zero sense. Think back to the early scene in the van with the killer and the dismembered head. Try to mesh that sequence with the logic offered in the 'twist'.


#7 of 68 OFFLINE   Julie K

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Posted April 14 2004 - 05:35 AM

How is the region 0 transfer? Anamorphic? Lions Gate will probably release a nice disc and I'd hate to double dip yet again.
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#8 of 68 OFFLINE   Justin_S

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Posted April 14 2004 - 09:09 AM

It's all fantasy...it's in her head. That scene doesn't REALLY occur. That scene with the killer is a manifestation...then, once the girl disappears off of the swing, every scene where you see her until the end of the film is fantasy (ie; her masturbating, her in the room with the kidnapped girl, her in the back of the truck, her chasing the truck in a car, etc.) This stuff is what she THINKS she would do if SHE was running from the killer. From the point she disappears off of the swing, she is the killer, only you see her as she sees herself, which is the man.


#9 of 68 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted April 14 2004 - 09:19 AM

Then how can you explain that the guy in the van, the one getting some dismembered 'head', was sitting on the land, watching the mother do her laundry? If it was all in the main girl's head...how would she know what the house even looks like?

Don't get me wrong; I think it's a damn solid little horror flick. The twist just feels more than a little tacked-on to me.

And I wonder if Lions Gate is worried about being sued by Dean Koontz. This flick is SO MUCH like his novel "Intensity" it's amazing. He practically deserves a retroactive 'Based on the novel by...' credit!


#10 of 68 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted April 14 2004 - 09:25 AM

Justin S having positive things to say about a horror film? Shocking.
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Posted Image Seriously, I'll only truly be shocked if he ever posts something negative about a horror film. Posted Image
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#11 of 68 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted April 14 2004 - 09:31 AM

Hey, the guy digs horror flicks. Good for him! Posted Image

Justin, you might really enjoy this article by Mike Bracken a whole lot. Yours and his comments have me mulling the 'twist' in my head a lot more, and I'm coming around to your way of thinking. Bottom line: I need to see it again soon. Posted Image

Note: The article linked above is LADEN with spoilers, so tread lightly.

#12 of 68 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted April 14 2004 - 09:39 AM

"This is my most anticipated film EVER!" - Justin on anything with two drops of blood.

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#13 of 68 OFFLINE   Ross Williams

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Posted April 14 2004 - 11:12 AM

Sorry Scott, didn't mean to offend.

Here's why I think it works:
Like Justin and Filmforce say, it all takes place in her head. Since she's obviously crazy, we can not trust what is going on. The begining with the head, I saw as the awakening of the killer inside her subconcious. (Yeah, there's a little plot hole with her not knowing what the place looks like. But you never know what the subconcious mind is capable of.) The killer starts to stir when she sees her friend in the shower. She's obviously over-taken by lust, and needs to satisfy that in her bed. We see the killer driving closer during this scene, he is starting to take over her body. The dad then gets killed while she "watches" from upstairs. Her mind is upstairs while, her body is downstairs killing him. The same for mom and kid. Notice that she watches each killing from a "safe" spot. Her friend doesn't interact with her, while the brother is getting killed. I got a bit annoyed at the killer giving up on his search of her in the bedroom and the gas station bathroom, but now obvious reasons he's not supposed to find her. Her chasing him, killing him and his resurection, all in her head.

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#14 of 68 OFFLINE   Scott Weinberg

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Posted April 14 2004 - 11:37 AM

No offense taken at all, Ross. I was just bein' a wiseass.

I saw the flick at Sundance and for the next day and a half, my two pals and I debated the movie (and the twist) non-stop. Of the three, I was the flick's strongest defender.

Frankly I can't wait to hear everyone else's reaction to it once they get to see it.

#15 of 68 OFFLINE   Justin_S

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Posted April 14 2004 - 12:15 PM

Thanks for the link, Scott. Very interesting indeed.

#16 of 68 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted April 14 2004 - 12:26 PM

Hmm...interesting. I'll have to check it out.
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#17 of 68 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted April 14 2004 - 01:21 PM

Seriously, I'll only truly be shocked if [Justin] ever posts something negative about a horror film.
Now, now...we just went through this in another thread where Justin presented quite a lengthy list of horror flicks he doesn't enjoy. Posted Image
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#18 of 68 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted October 05 2004 - 07:55 PM

Had to bump this one up. I'm with Scott all the way on this one.

Even if it is fantasy, it's done in a way that it only exists to justify the twist. With other mind-fuck kinds of films (Lynch stuff, Donnie Darko), I felt much more of an emotional connection to the material. This one just leaves me scratching my head


As I said in the challenge thread, the great aspects of the film redeem it...but the ending really pisses me off. As Scott told me when I started bitching at him about it, "the bad doesn't take away from the good."

A good film that could have been a great one.
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#19 of 68 OFFLINE   James_Kiang

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Posted October 06 2004 - 03:46 AM

I'll do some searching, but any links to the region 0 release? I just might order this one to see what all the hype is about.

#20 of 68 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted October 06 2004 - 04:56 AM

As I understand it, there are no DVDs from any region with English subs. The only "English-friendly" version I'm aware of is a Thai DVD that has a reportedly atrocious English dub track (but no English subs/original French soundtrack).

I've been dying to see this flick, but I'm unaware of any acceptable DVDs.
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