So, whilst researching and catching up on all the essential New French Extreme titles, Haute Tension was one that would come up time and time again. As I was looking at getting a copy, I realised that it was also known as Switchblade Romance, which I recently picked up for a pound in a charity shop. Bonus Jonas.
Alexandre Aja’s shocker (he is known for the remake of The Hills As Eyes and also wrote the Elijah Wood classic Maniac) sees best friends Marie and Alex heading to the country to stay with Alex’s parents. You’ll feel the titular tension start to ramp up as soon as you realise that this house is in the middle of goddamn nowhere. And this tension explodes with the arrival of a truck, the driver of which attacks Alex’s father and begins to destroy anyone he comes across. It is classic home invasion scares, mixed with the claustrophobia of Halloween as you start shouting at the screen ‘Don’t hide in the wardrobe!’ or ‘just get out of there’. Hope my neighbours were not too freaked out by my scared reactions to many of these set pieces, there are some real unflinching and damn right nasty kills here and everything is smeared with a dirt that pervades throughout. And of course, the other rule of horror ‘stay out of the cornfield’ is ignored too and I watched much of it from behind my hands, much as I did with Frontiers.
The cinematography is excellent and all of there interiors feel so small and threatening as the game of cat and mouse ramps up towards the thrilling Final Girl/Massive Shock ending, which I won’t go into here but the disc comes with a making of documentary and an Aja commentary which go into the surprises in much more depth.
Switchblade Romance / Haute Tension is another French shocker that offers tons of gore and some breathtaking kills and trust me, that twist will haunt you for days…