High Tension – It could go either way (Spoilers follow this title)

February 17, 2012

So a friend of mine has been nagging me to see this movie “ High Tension ” (from 2003), for months now. I’m admittedly not a fan of foreign films simply because something is always lost in translation for me and I can’t seem to really enjoy them. Perfect example… “ Brotherhood of the Wolf“. I thought that was going to be a brilliant film and I wanted to see it in theaters way back when it came to the US. I never got the chance, but I did see it with some buddies of mine on video. The entire time I was bored out of my mind, even with the nice visuals and action on screen.

I’m not ashamed of my distaste for most foreign fare but I admit it has shorted me on some very good stuff. One that I absolutely love though is the two film alternate point of views story Day Watch” and “Night Watch“. Brilliant story that I saw both parts in theater. I like the second one better, but I enjoy the first for it’s setup of the second movie. I love it the way it is, but there’s a very small part of me that wishes it was the trilogy I thought it was supposed to be when the filmmaker set out to put it together.

Back to “High Tension“…

I enjoyed the movie for sure. It was fun to see all the stuff going on and the interesting ways the kills were made. The tension in the movie was indeed high and I loved it.

We’ve seen this movie before though. One of the so called protagonists is up against the so called and “clear cut” antagonist and we turn out to find they are one in the same person suffering from multiple personality disorder (MPD). One of the most recent examples is the meant to be, yet huge let down, block buster “Pandorum“. Going back through the early 2000’s and into the 90’s and even back into the 80’s, this was a common theme among movies. Not just horror either. Crime films sometimes delved into the dark barely understood theme of multiple personality disorders. The most famous and most well done I think would be “Fight Club“.

High Tension” does a good job at getting this right in a way. You never really put it together. I came close, thinking that one of the girls involved was working with the killer. They did a good job covering up things, and it would have played out right even if it was just the straight up killer going around having his fun.

The bad thing about it though… I feel kind of cheated by this. The filmmaker put a movie together that cheats too much of the story for it to actually work out. There are several very big things that stick out for me that make the story not line up for it to be a MPD thing. The most glaring is how the girl/killer (Cécile De France) got messed up. The girl herself was uninjured for the whole movie until she wrecked the yellow car. From then on she was cut up and bloody. When we see the killer part of her we see he too is uninjured until of course the girl part of the personality starts bashing his head in.

If the truck was the real vehicle, the car would then not have been real so then no wreck because the truck never wrecked. No wreck means that the girl would have been uninjured. She obviously wasn’t actually fighting herself when the girl/killer was fighting it out, and we never see what actually happened, but going off of what was shown and what was posed as the truth, then it’s impossible for her to have been all messed up. Yet we see throughout the ending that she’s jacked up like she was actually in that wreck and in the fight with the killer.

And in the first place, where the hell did the girl get the truck? I mean she was brought to the farm by her friend (Maïwenn), so did the truck belong to the farm? If so, what was it doing in the first scene where the killer is getting his kicks from that other chick’s head? And, just a curiosity here, was the chick’s head supposed to be that of the best friend and the killer/girl was just dreaming that scene?

This is just a couple of the many, many things I can cite that shows the story doesn’t work and the audience was cheated. You can of course make anything possible if you cheat it, it’s all about what the audience is willing to accept and if they even think about it once the movie is over. I happened to be one who caught on and thought back to what we saw. Some of these types of movies will go back and reveal what actually happened. I like that part because then the story most times matches up and we’re given an “Ohhhhh… I see” moment. We get a little of that here, but I think the filmmaker realized that not everything could match up so he stopped with two or three reveals.

Look back into the movie and see the bathroom scene at the gas station. You’ll notice as the girl is slowly making her way out of the stall she was hiding in, the mirror on the wall at the far end of the room has someone move behind where the wall is. Not sure if this is the guy or if it’s a crew member, but it’s there. Could this be another mistake? Or was it intentional. If intentional, why show the guy walking out of the bathroom at all while the girl is in frame? I can see how the situation would work out during the times that she was watching the killer, but in the active participation of the events that went on, it doesn’t fit the way we were shown.

In the end, the movie was fun and I enjoyed it, but don’t over think it because you’ll be left wondering what the hell happened and how the hell does it all fit together. Also, the bit about the movie being foreign didn’t bother me at all, so good job there. The movie is packed with fun stuff, kills scenes, some sick stuff, some heat, and the acting is pretty good. I don’t know the cast at all, but I enjoyed them a lot. It was nice to see a killer (exceptionally played by Philippe Nahon) who didn’t need a costume really and was just some random large brutal dude. I dug the hell out of his vehicle too. Even with all it’s flaws I have a hard time calling this movie anything but a winner, so if you haven’t seen it yet check it out and enjoy the horror!



– Mr. Frights



  1. i think the whole movie is just an interview with marie. her being a psychopath, the doctors are trying to get her side of the story. what we are watching is just what she is telling them she remembers in her head. it didnt necessarily happen that way.

  2. Movies are a “Show Me, Tell Me” medium, which means that if the filmmaker isn’t showing or telling us what’s going on through a character or something else on screen then it’s not happening. Not to be insulting because that isn’t my intention, but what you’re saying makes no sense as they never set up any kind of idea that this is what’s going on. Not even in the end when they show her in the room where her friend is watching her. The filmmaker doesn’t divulge any kind of interview at all. That may be part of the movie that didn’t make it in, though I doubt it. But regardless, it’s still the filmmaker’s responsibility to unfold all necessary facts to the audience so they know what’s going on. This is the reason movies based on books get so cut up. They only take what’s important to the main plot of the story, everything else gets left behind no matter how important it might be to the reader. Most times the audience doesn’t even know. If they do leave something important behind though, it’s painfully clear. That makes it a bad movie in one respect.I’d appreciate the film for what it was a little more if it was told as an interview, but it’s not. So we can’t discern anything more from it than what was given to us. Like I said, there are other films that have gone the multiple personality rout i.e. Fight Club, there are also other films that have taken on an interview style rout telling us what happened i.e. The Usual Suspects — Those make sense being what they are. High Tension never does.

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