High Tension aka Switchblade Romance (2003)

High Tension posterPeople can be killed in a variety of ways. People can be stabbed, people can be shot, people can be beaten, and if any of these things happen to a person then that person is likely to die. There are some murderers, though, who are not satisfied with the flimsy guarantees such methods provide, killers such as “The Killer” featured in High Tension. Call it dedication, call it professionalism, call it insanity but The Killer is willing to go to great lengths to ensure that his intended victim has flat-lined. If a person was to find that they were being skull fucked by The Killer, even after having been beheaded, then said person could at least rest assured that The Killer would only be displaying an admirable commitment to his cause, after all, said decapitated individual could be playing dead… what kind of homicidal maniac wouldn’t take the time to check?

High Tension is everything the title implies, from the opening shots a sense of dread pervades the film and after The Killer makes his entrance the tension rockets to almost unbearable levels, fuelled by the constant threat of extreme violence. After witnessing the brutal murder of her best friend Alexia’s family, Marie plays an extended game of cat and mouse with The Killer. She sneaks around the converted farmhouse hoping to evade the killer and summon rescue. High Tension 3The Killer though, has every intention of placing a chained Alexia into the back of his truck so that he might enjoy some quality time with her in more comfortable surroundings and so the chase begins. Throughout the film the cinematography, music and performances all contribute towards making High Tension the blood soaked, visceral experience it no doubt intends to be and it is easy to imagine watching the whole film without taking a breath… it is just so intense.

High Tension 2I actually saw this flick in theaters back when it was released on Valentines Day, I think the whole gimmick of the movie being billed as a slasher love story was stupid, but I was just glad I was able to see it in theaters. It’s actually of  a handfull of movies that I have seen bootleged then watched them in the theater, but after reading about it I just had to watch it anyway I could, I know you guys understand.

The movie opens with a horrifically scarred Marie (Cécile de France) narrating what has happened onto tape, and allowing an early glimpse of the killer, a murderously psychotic hick rapist (Philippe ‘Seul Contre Tous’ Nahon), receiving head in his truck from a head that is severed, it is clear that ‘Switchblade Romance’ is going to conform to that favourite slasher sub-genre of the seventies, the ‘survivor film’ (think Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ or Wes Craven’s ‘The Hills Have Eyes’), where the emphasis is not on identifying the killer so much as on simply outrunning, outwitting and outliving him. High Tension 4When this madman mercilessly slaughters the entire family of Marie’s friend Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), and throws Alex herself, bound and gagged, into the back of his pick-up, he draws the resourceful Marie into a bloody game of cat-and-mouse from which only one of them can emerge alive except that, along the film’s rural by ways and backwoods, director and co writer Alexandre Aja has laid a trap for the unwary viewer which takes ‘Switchblade Romance’ from survivalist shocker to a nightmare of an altogether different kind.

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