- Cécile de France as Marie
- Maïwenn as Alex
- Philippe Nahon as The Killer
When Alexandre Aja named his film High Tension, he sure wasn’t kidding about the level of suspense and fear he sustains in this gory horror flick. A relentlessly brutal and suspenseful slasher movie with lashings of blood, imaginative deaths and a jaw-dropping twist, High Tension is a must for gore hounds and horror fans alike.
High Tension opens in chilling fashion as a terrified and wild-eyed girl named Marie runs through the woods, clutching a bloody wound on her stomach. She manages to stop a car and begs for help as the scene fades to black. Marie wakes up and realises it was a dream. Yet what she doesn’t know is that this part of her dream will soon become reality for her. Marie is travelling with her best friend Alex to Alex’s parents’ house located in the French countryside. The two girls plan to study for upcoming exams over the summer. On the first night of the girls arriving at the house, a sudden and unexpected knock at the door signals brutal consequences for all involved. A serial killer enters the house and proceeds to butcher Alex’s father, mother and brother, before taking her prisoner in his rusty old truck. Marie must now attempt to rescue her best friend from certain death and pit herself against this sadistic psychopath in a game of cat and mouse in this terrifying and unexpected horror movie that keeps you on edge and biting your nails for a long time.
Alexandre Aja crafts the scary and blood-soaked events of High Tension with a precision and awareness of the horror genre. It may be unrelentingly gory and disquieting, but suspense and fear are the main backbone to this slasher. Highlights of this almost unbearable tension are the scene in which Marie silently watches from a wardrobe as Alex’s mother is brutally murdered and her spine-chilling attempt to evade the killer in a gas station backroom. Instead of relying on CGI like so many horror films, Aja instead uses brutally realistic make up for the various wounds and death in the picture which give it a decidedly old school feel. The main premise may not be the most original one ever scene in a horror movie, but in the talented and twisted hands of Aja, High Tension becomes a startling and stylish offering with unbearable suspense to burn. High Tension also has an effectively breakneck pace as it grabs you by the jugular from around the 20 minute mark and doesn’t let up until the end. Now I have to mention that this movie has a twist, but I won’t divulge in detail. All I will say is that it is very unexpected and it will most definitely polarize viewers. Some will see it as illogical and a cop-out, others will view it as unique and unexpected. While both arguments can be strongly made, the one thing everyone will agree on is that the twist is really hard to shake off once the credits roll.
Cécile de France turns in an intense performance as the determined Marie, who has to utilise her tough as nails persona in order to take down the vicious killer who has kidnapped her best friend. With expressive eyes and cropped hair, she makes for an interesting heroine caught in this brutal set of events. Maïwenn is great as the traumatized and brutalized Alex, who must endure the twisted mind of the killer after being kidnapped by him. Philippe Nahon makes for a menacing and terrifying presence as the killer who butchers Alex’s family then sets his crazed sights on making the young girl his next victim.
Gory, unsettling and with a chilling twist, High Tension is a genuinely scary and unrelenting exercise in terror that will surely keep you awake at night thinking about it.