Shaun vs. High Tension (2003)

Two young women, Marie and Alex, are going to Alex’s parents’ place for the weekend.  However, a serial killer in the neighborhood shows up uninvited, kills off Alex’s parents and kidnaps her.  Marie jumps into the killer’s truck in hopes of saving her friend.  

Judging a Book by its Cover




– I really hope this isn’t going to be an I Spit on Your Grave imitation.



– What brand of circular saw is that?  It looks like it can go through aaaanything.



– There’s enough blood on the poster to make me instantly want to watch it.







Directed by Alexandre Aja

Starring Cécile de France, Maïwenn and Philippe Nahon

Best friends Marie and Alex are spending the weekend at Alex’s parents house in the country to study.  Marie goes off to her room to listen to music and play the flesh fiddle thinking of her best friend.  Awww…? What starts off as a calm weekend is interrupted by a deranged killer who shows up to do some major damage.  Marie wakes up to find her friend shackled up and tries to help her.  When the man is done killing Alex’s family, he comes for Alex and throws her in his truck for later. Marie, who was hiding in a closet, grabs a knife and jumps into the truck with the hopes of saving her friend.  Every stop features heart-thumping intensity as Marie tries to get Alex out of danger while the killer is preoccupied though her shenanigans wind up getting someone else killed.

It’s part way through the film that there’s a plot twist and it’s easily the most derisive thing that’s turned horror fans off of really enjoying High TensionSPOILER The movie initially follows Marie’s point of view — trying to save Alex — but switches to Alex’s later and the killer is really revealed to be Marie who has imagined a separate entity in her mind to be the killer.  The film recounts the previous scenes with the killer and inserts Marie doing the evil deeds instead.  The rest of the film is a bloody chase and fight for survival between the two women. END SPOILER  Unfortunately while the idea sounds good on paper, it’s not a very convincing twist when executed on film.

The film’s main highlight is easily the gore effects which were made by Giannetto De Rossi, whose horror work includes collaborations with Lucio Fulci with Zombie, The Beyond and House by the Cemetery.  The slaughter features probably one of the most gruesome decapitations I’ve seen in a while as the killer puts the father’s head between stair banisters, grabs a bookcase and rams it into his head, severing it from his neck with a huge spurt of blood.  Crazy!  There’s a near decapitation with a knife, a brutal axe attack and of course the circular saw scene that’s prominent among the films’ advertising.  Those looking for some shocking gruesomeness will not be disappointed in that respect.


Overall, High Tension delivers on most counts but a convoluted, poorly executed plot twist derails the movie for a lot of people so be warned that the movie is mostly good with a “meh” ending.


Story: 6 – A maniac kills off an entire family and kidnaps the daughter whose friend jumps in the vehicle to save her.  What starts off as a gory nail-biting thriller loses a lot of steam after a confusing plot twist.

Blood: 10 – The screen drips with the red stuff in some very shocking kill sequences.

Nudity: 0 – Not necessary to have in this movie.

Overall: 7 – I really like the movie and would love to bump the number higher but that twist really wrecks the film for me.


-Though a French production, the film was done in Romania for budget purposes.

-I never read the novel but Dean Koontz’s “Intensity,” was apparently used as source material.  On his website, Koontz stated that he was aware of the plagiarism but would not sue because didn’t want any association with the film which disgusted him.


Categories: Review

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