High Tension follows Marie and Alexia as they travel to Alexia’s family’s secluded farmhouse for a weekend of quiet studying. As they are settling into the warm family home for the night, their quiet weekend away is transformed into a night of terror, suffering, and death. The young women must find a way to survive the deranged intruder set on killing everyone and taking Alexia with him to what we can only assume is a fate worse than death.
I love the atmosphere of films like this. It’s like they make sure that the home looks as warm and welcoming as possible before turning it into a slaughterhouse all but devoid of humanity and hope. The juxtaposition between the two really makes everything hit that much harder. Home invasion flicks are great but this definitely takes it a step further. The kills in High Tension are all pretty quick and brutal. There are two kills though, that would usually be really played up for the emotional impact and possible shock factor but this film treats them as business as usual and I really dig that. It helps to drive home a completely different message.
I have heard many films called “mean spirited” and I don’t think that fits High Tension in the least. It’s more nihilistic than mean spirited, in my opinion. It doesn’t linger on the death or brutality. I’m not saying that the kills are lacking in any way or that there’s an absence of brutality but I’m just saying that the kills aren’t the centerpiece, they’re just part of the story. These kills are just means to an end.
Speaking of ends, if you’ve heard this movie discussed, you’ve heard someone bitch about the ending. Honestly, the plot twists so hard that it tears some pretty big holes in itself. Some of them I can get past because I’ve seen a certain movie that dealt with the same kind of thing before but we don’t talk about that movie. I feel like this is one of those films where it’s best to just go with it. Experience the atmosphere and the visuals and save any questions you have for the end of the journey. That’s what I did and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.
All in all, would I recommend High Tension? Yes. Definitely. The core performances are solid, the story is interesting, and the atmosphere is impeccable. As the name would suggest, it masterfully builds tension and pays off in spades. Do yourself a favor and give this one a chance.