It struck me that I’ve seen Haute Tension or Switchblade Romance some time ago and that a lot of the US sites are just reviewing it now, so I’ll copy up the review from my site on here. Big notice up front, this review is spoiler free, and therefore quite short. Be very wary that there are many spoilers out there, and I would advise not to get drawn into one, so read mine!
Oh my god. Without a doubt I have not been affected by a movie this much since watching the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre when I was well under age and the movie was certainly more than dodgy. I couldn’t sleep after watching that and was very uneasy, multiplied a gazillion times by the imagination of a kid. This certainly had a similar affect on me, it scared me and horrified me, it even surprised me more than any other movie has of late.
If you have any preconception about foreign cinema being weaker to Hollywood then you have hardly spent enough time watching foreign cinema and too much time engrossed in poor romantic flicks with Clooney et al. You really need to get out and grab some of that Japanese, Spanish and French cinema action. It’s easily had and there’s a lot to it, far better movies…anyway, I find myself digressing again.
From the outset this movie pitches itself as a hard horror, it isn’t going to pull any punches and it’s going to show you like it is, harrowing and horrific. That said, the story then turns to a slower pace and you find that it’s mixing the suspenseful thriller in with the moments of full on horror, and it’s done so well. Too well in fact, and watching the psychotic at work is sometimes shocking.
It rides a fine line between schlock horror and suspense horror, it manages to combine the two without falling into a complete gore flick. It is gory mind you, very gory. I was eating a couple of biscuits during the movie and I stopped until it was finished, even then I wasn’t sure.
That’s where this movies strength lies, it really pushes the boundaries of between those two types of movies but keeps its feet firmly in the suspense, and tension area. The film is exceedingly tense, and it’s raised slowly to begin with, but creeps up at every set piece, and it’s not long before the shocking and surprising final set piece is upon you. That in itself is terrifying, and as it unfolded on me I was stunned.
Part of me thinks that this movie could have done much better without all the horror, but I’m not sure that the film would have carried on the tension and suspense alone, it’s the very presence of the horror that adds to and heightens the pressure.
A very stylish, tense film, truly a suspense-thriller-horror to be proud of from the French. Please Hollywood, don’t remake it.