My girlfriend things realistic horror movies are scary, like I'm not about to leap through her window and punch her in the snoot. I think alien/monster movies are scary, like she's not about to command her Alpha Centauri buddies to tractor me into their spaceship and grind me into a delicious pink paste.
Who's right? Me, obviously. You don't see her writing this column. Also she doesn't exist. But that's no reason we can't enjoy variety, including what might be the grandfather of the recent French horror movement, 2003's High Tension.
Intending to get away from the parties and get down to studying, students Maiwenn Le Besco and Cecile De France head to Le Besco's remote farmhouse. Their first night there, serial killer Philippe Nahon breaks into the house, kills Le Besco's family, and kidnaps her, leaving De France as her only hope of rescue.
Calling your horror movie High Tension is audacious. Shouldn't we the audience be making the final call about the relative tension levels involved? You may as well go for the gusto and title it Butt-Kicking Movie of Such Studly Grandeur That If It Were a Dude Your Girlfriend Would Totally Leave You For It.
Of course, all that goes out the window if it really is good. And director Alexandre Aja creates a game of intrigue between De France and Nahon that completely lives up to its billing.
But then it's hard to deny the artistic worth of any movie where the blood flows like blood-colored wine. Certain movies splay out their gore in chunky, pico de gallo-esque mounds. Not so with High Tension, which prefers to gush it around with a Carlo Rossi-looking deep red of fluids that may well have been stomped between a monk's toes. In case you've never been to college, Rossi is the stuff that costs nothing and makes you think it's a good idea to flounder around in that dried-up swimming pool on your friend's rooftop.
That's an aside to the genuine tension created by a game of cat and mouse so intense Tom and Jerry have no doubt sued this movie for copyright infringement. First Nahon chases De France (this is the equivalent of being named Joe American, incidentally), then De France chases Nahon, then we all invest in Hanes because High Tension is so disturbing we must never let our parents know how we've physically responded.
Then comes the twist. The true measure of twist movies is how well they stand up before the curveball buckles your knees, and though High Tension is to this point just one more home invasion movie--though an intense one--it's the final minutes that set it apart. I love Rob Zombie like tacos cabezas, but High Tension leaves Halloween in the dirt.