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HAUTE TENSION/HIGH TENSION

BY ROB WATSON
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Alexandre Aja’s French import has one scene that belongs in the horror-movie pantheon. Marie (Cécile De France) is crouching in a closet, hiding from a killer who’s invaded the house where she is staying with a friend’s family. She watches through the cracks in the door as an earlier victim, whom Marie had assumed dead, crawls desperately toward the closet, her throat gushing blood. Just as the woman is about to reach the hiding place — and reveal Marie — the killer catches her, pulls her back by the hair, and finishes her off with a blade to the throat as the woman’s eyes meet Marie’s. It’s the verisimilitude of Last House on the Left–era Wes Craven meeting the splattery beauty of Dario Argento.

The rest of Haute tension, though admirable for its uncompromising gore in this era of PG-13 horror-lite, fails to distinguish itself, as Marie fights to rescue friend and love object Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) from what may be France’s only psycho hillbilly rapist/serial killer (Philippe Nahon). The film’s ’70s-style low-tech grit can’t make up for the ruinous dubbing in many scenes and an eye roller of a final plot twist that’s not a little bit homophobic. In French with English subtitles. (85 minutes) At the Flagship, Providence Place 16, and Showcase cinemas.


Issue Date: June 10 - 16, 2005
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