I like Alexander Aja's remakes, so why did it take me so long to get around to watch an original feature? I blame the pile of unwatched DVD's I own. There's many classics waiting to be viewed for the first time in that pile that never stops growing, but damn I wish I watched this sooner.
High Tension (or Hate Tension or Switchblade Romance) is about 2 college friends, Marie and Alexa, who go away to Alexa's parents home in the secluded countryside for some study time but fall victim to a mysterious killer.
I'm just going to come out and say it. This is a MASTERPIECE. The premise may sound like a typical slasher movie, but this is more than a typical 'pick 'em off' type of movie. It's a true experiment in terror and it pays off. From the very beginning it presents itself as a hard hitting horror film. There's no sweet build up, there's no laughs, there's no annoying teens. From the very start you know very dark and nasty things are going to happening. We're introduced to the killer early on, and even though we don't get a clear look at him, it's pretty clear where he's going.... but when he arrives... oh boy.
The kills here aren't ''cool.'' They're flat out nasty and realistic. The killer starts killing as soon as he enters the house and doesn't stop until the whole family are dead, with the exception of the two main ladies - one of whom (Alexa) is tied up and the other (Marie) who is constantly evading the killer. Once it gets going it never lets up. When there isn't a brutal murder happening the movie is constantly intense. It keeps the balance between gore and suspense and because of this it's constantly effective. Too much of either is fine, but when you get the balance right you create something special.
It's also a very beautifully shot movie, especially at the start. The scenery was so beautiful in many ways, but it only added to the terror. The French countryside is wonderful, but it's also secluded. Definitely not the best place to avoid a psychopath, particularly one so damn nasty who not only kills every living thing he sees, but he doesn't even wash his hands after he does the toilet.
And before I wrap this up.... all is not what it seems in this film. Enjoy.
Aja, I know you're probably reading this right now, but please stop remaking. I enjoyed all of them, but when you have ideas this good then you can't let them go to waste. You're a good man and I love you though.