High Tension (Blu-ray)
Two best friends, Marie and Alexia, decide to drive down to Alexia’s parent’s farmhouse in the country for a little downtime as they get ready to write their college exams. All seems well until Marie realizes they’re not alone and that a brutal killer has decided to make them this night’s game.
Well, I’m going to be honest with you all in saying that I was overjoyed to get this Blu-ray to review but not for the reasons you might think. This is not a good movie. As a matter of fact, I don’t even consider this abomination a film at all. HIGH TENSION is a prime example of why there’s no room for the naive in Hollywood and obviously no depths to which some people will sink to make a buck. Allow me to explain.
The French gore fest entitled “High Tension” was released back in 2003. I’ll never forget my seething anger the night I rented it. I’d recently gotten into Dean Koontz’s work and had just finished reading “Intensity” and was hot on the trail of the made for TV movie adaption when I came across this steaming nugget of plagiarism. I didn’t know it at the time of course, I was fishing for something to watch at Blockbuster and as the pull of desperate times was upon me yet again, I ended up going home with this flick. I started it up, instantly feeling something wrong in the first ten minutes, something familiar. About fifteen minutes in, “High Tension” ceased to exist and I was now watching “Intensity”, or rather someone’s twisted version of it.
Now I know what you might be thinking, “come on man, there are tons of films with the same M.O. so how can you say this was a carbon copy?” Well, to be honest, because that’s exactly what the first half of the film is. The two girls driving out to the farmhouse in the middle of wine country, the dinner with the family, a killer coming in and killing the parents then abducting one of the girls, the other girl sneaking into the truck, stopping at the gas station and then to completely top it off, Marie brought a knife (just like in the book) which she mistakenly drops at the pumps just as she does in the book. Okay, so yes, the film does change from there (going beyond ridiculous I might add, with an ending that’s just plain absurd) but there’s no denying the obvious here.
HIGH TENSION is a disgrace, a mockery that demeans everything movies are supposed to stand for. As I writer, this goes beyond insult and I just couldn’t get my mind around it. I later wrote to Mr. Koontz for answers (and instructions on how to find the TV version of Intensity) and he was kind enough to write me back assuring me this “situation” was being dealt with. Now, I was glad to hear it but it really depresses me to know this kind of out right plagiarism happens…and apparently more often than we know. Bottom line folks (and especially to all you writers out there) copyright your work and be damn careful what you do with it and who you show it to. And whatever you do, DON’T spend a dime on this film or encourage it in any way shape or form.
Video: 2.35:1 Widescreen in 1080p HD with AVC codec. As per Alexandre Aja’s usual work, this flick is definitely a gore fest to behold in HD.
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD in English, French and Spanish with the same subtitle options. Another place this flick fails is in the dubbing as this was originally shot in French, so unless you speak French it’s a bit annoying.
Commentary (1:30:44): Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur go through the film and claim this story is dedicated to the early eighties Horror they grew up watching together. The sad thing is that with the exception of this film, I really dig Aja’s work.
Haute Horror: Making of High Tension (23:47): Like the commentary, here we have Aja and Levasseur explaining how far they go back (they became buddies in elementary school) and expressing their love of Horror and all things gore related.
Building Tension (8:14): Here we get the boys explaining how they created the sense of “tension” for the film. You could almost describe it as “intense” (grin).
Giannetto De Rossie: The Truth, The Madness & The Magic (7:42): Here we have the boys expressing their need for a special sort of makeup artist who could go the distance with such a low budget as they were worried some of the effects may look cheesy. They looked real to me.
Scene Commentary with Alexandre Aja and Cecile De France (46:55): Here we find some insight from Aja and France in regards to some of the film’s key scenes and particularly how they wanted to handle the (ahem) twist. Again, this twist was pure ridiculousness.
Previews: Here we get some trailers from Lionsgate as well as a couple Blu-ray commercials.