A Little Death
How do you solve a problem like Marie? We haven’t seen a horror-
It’s also about how a vast array of power saws, axes, knives, guns, and garden tools can be put to inventive uses to turn human bodies into so much ground chuck.
We see immediately that Marie (Cécile De France: Around the World in 80 Days) is a woman who can take care of herself, if in a less violent sense of the phrase than you might expect, when director Alexandre Aja (who cowrote the film with Grégory Levasseur) starts us off with an orgasmic bang, breaking a near-
It’s almost as if this were a violent fantasy of Marie’s… or if her violation of the proper norms of behavior for a lady brought about a punishment. For Marie has managed to hide her presence from the attacker and endures witnessing his savage crimes, peeking through closet doors and the like, unable to stop any of it. But the killer is apparently fixated on Alex, and instead of murdering her, he throws her in the back of the truck… and Marie is able to sneak in, too. As terrified as she is, Marie, as we’ve seen, takes care of what needs taking care of, and she’s not going to let Alex be butchered, or worse. And she will do whatever it takes to protect her friend.
Rarely has a horror film been so aptly named — High Tension is almost too tense, almost too viscerally ruthless to be endured. It’s in how Aja ramps up the psychological suspense in a way that works directly on your lizard brain, bypassing the areas that handle logic and reason and such — it’s not that his relentless pacing doesn’t give you time to think about some of the moments of apparent preposterousness, it’s that your brain simply won’t be functioning on that level at all. Which is, of course, exactly what you want from a horror movie — but with recent attempts at the genre being at best laughable and at worst boring, it comes as a real shock to find one so genuinely, primordially scary. But with its power to rivet you to your seat in terror to the point that you’re unable to look away even in self-
There’s an NC-17 European version of the film — didn’t I mention? it’s French — that’s a minute longer than the slightly rejiggered, part-