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High Tension (Feb.05) by Jsyn.

2 Girls, a Guy, and a Power Saw!

What's aruguably the best thing to happen to horror movies since Tom Savini? FOREIGN PEOPLE! Thats right, politics aside, it seems like they are the ones taking notes on what made "the classics" classic. While most of franchise-milking Hollywood has its head up it's computer generated ass, the foreign film community has embraced the forgotten art of making good, original horror movies with an old-fashioned work ethic. The recent trend of importing foreign films and directors into our studio system is proof that the average American genre fan has grown curious as to whats going on beyond our borders.

This summer, the good folks over at Lions Gate are releasing a french import stateside. HAUTE TENSION has been out for a while and even though you can find the import DVD online, it should absolutley not stop you from parking your keister in that theater seat June 3rd.

Back in the glorious 80's, horror movies had two important key characters...Blood and Violence. Remember those, horror fans? Don't see much of those two anymore. Maybe they both got girlfriends or something. For too long we have been forced to consume a steady diet of bland pap, and ask for more or go hungry. Did someone bogart all the good stuff? I mean, whatever happened to all the old-school "Holy fucking shit what the fuck!" style of unflinching depravity found in classics like MANIAC and THE HILLS HAVE EYES? Some current domestic horror movies do bring the noise so to speak, but in my opinion it's a slightly more stylized, almost cartoony version of what we had back in the heyday. I guess today's filmmakers use it in that way to kind of cusion the blow in the ratings department.

I am happy to say that HIGH TENSION is a welcome return to true horror films of yore, without all the unneccesary bells and whistles. A simple story, a few well-acted characters, and gorgeous cinematography make this one killer movie, pun intended. It is, unabashedly and unashamedly, a slasher movie. Thats it. No obscene budget, no intricate subtext, no heavy-handed social commentary... just Man Killing People Because He Crazy. Basic plot: two college girls go on a study retreat to a family farm in the country. This is evident from the cornfields. Then, for the reason explained above, some crusty guy in a spooky truck comes a calling one night and goes fucking buck on the whole family. Scary-ass buck! Our cute french heroine seems to slip past him unnoticed, but her friend is chained up and taken away in aformentioned spooky truck. Cute french girl then tries to save her friend from crusty guy and many gallons of blood are splattered until the big finale when even more blood is splattered! They must have used all the Karo syrup in France for the ending sequence alone folks.

Now dont get me wrong, the film is not without a few twists and turns (especially the oft-debated ending), but at it's core you have a 98 minute VERY bloody freak out that dosen't shy away from intense terror. After years of cinematic SPAM, this one delivers the goods like a trip to the Outback Steak House on payday.

Director Alexandre Aja had done a fantastic job of creating a celluliod time machine that transports us, in spirit, back to the Eighties. Not in a campy way, mind you... it's obvious he has a love and respect for the genre. He really captures the horror in the act of killing, not just the special effects aftermath. There are some truly cringe-worthy scenes that are played without even the merest hint of humour. In that sense, it's at it's most effective, preying on the "It's horrible yet I cannot turn away" morbid curiousity of the viewer. When someone gets a slit throat or a nice juicy axe in the chest, the squirm factor knocks the wind out of you and makes the heart race. It's also very rare in a horror flick when you truly root for the heroine to deliver some serious comeuppance to the killer. And damn, at the end of this one I felt like I needed a cigarette, and I dont even smoke!

HIGH TENSION is like the straight-laced, more mature second cousin of CABIN FEVER... they both go to the same party but only one gets shitfaced while the other stays late to help clean up. It's obvious Eli Roth watched a lot of Sam Raimi, while Alexandre Aja* took notes from the early Tobe Hooper/ Wes Craven School of Shock.

The only criticism I could forsee when this hits our theaters would be with the ending. It's a plot twist device we have seen before, especially in more recent films. Personally I thought it was effective and clever. It's just a shame knowing this movie was made a few years ago, and in that respect it was the first that the rest copied from. I can just picture Joe Meatball coming out of the theater with his 16 year old "date" loudly proclaiming, "It was good until the ending! That ending sucked! Duuuh"! Whatever. I would like to think us sophistomocated horror fans of discriminating tastes can look past that, into the deliciously evil heart of this warm, bloody Little Slasher Film That Could, and lick our chops in satifaction. My high school english teacher said I had a gift for descriptive phrases...

What can I say? I REALLY LIKE THIS MOVIE! I only hope they dont literally and figurativley cut the guts out of it for the domestic release. And in an ironic twist, word on the street is that Wes Craven himself has tapped Alexandre Aja to direct the remake of THE HILLS HAVE EYES based on this movie! And so the pupil becomes the master? Becomes the pupil? Well look at the bright side... the guy who directed the TEXAS CHAINSAW redux is French and he did okay...REALLY, HE DID!

Go see this.


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