31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 1: Haute Tension (2003)

Another horror-a-thon is upon us! 

Year 3, and I’ve no interest in breaking my streak despite being in Paris for a long weekend. Time for some gallic gore. Who cares if it’s 5am?

Haute Tension (or Switchblade Romance – a title which does the film’s narrative more harm than good) is The Hills Have Eyes remaker Alexandre Aja’s blood-soaked home invasion slasher that marked the New French Extreme horror wave. Students Alex and Marie go to the latter’s family farm for a study-filled weekend, but things start to go a bit head-smashy once a stranger knocks on their door.

From there on in, it’s an exercise in spectacular splatter with some added neo-nostalgia (set in the last dregs of the time before smartphones). But it’s OTT more often that not – there is no way a slim human body can gasp for breath after having a quarter-chunk of neck skin excised; a buzz saw to the chest is not akin to a mild case of fat-person-using-your-oesophagus as a seat. The lackadaisically-paced storytelling and its brief moments of actual tension are neutered by an impossibly implausible third-act-‘reveal’ that only serves to expose many plot points as red herrings or plotholes.

I wanted to like it after much hype from friends, but the cheesy post-climactic scene hurled it into shitedom for me. 



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