Monday, June 27, 2016

French Fried Chainsaw Massacre, or Thoughts on Haute Tension

Featuring the world’s first decapitation by bookcase and voted by Time Magazine as one of The Top 10 Most Ridiculously Violent Movies (along with Kill Bill (2003), Hostel (2005) and A Clockwork Orange (1971), Haute Tension (2003) belongs to that New French Extremity genre you’ve heard so much about, along with Trouble Every Day (2001) and Martyrs (2008).
Haute Tension is a violently frenetic chase movie with a resourceful female heroine who kicks ass, a decade before that girl with the bow and arrow would volunteer as tribute.  She also sports a short Caesar-cut that’s way cooler than the side braid thing, but that’s just me.
Cécile de France plays Marie, who spends the weekend at her best friend’s farmhouse in rural France.  Maïwenn (she only has one name, like Madonna), who played the blue Diva Plavalaguna in The Fifth Element (1997) portrays Alex, the best friend.  Alex’s family is murdered in a brutal midnight blitz attack by a nameless killer, Marie hides, Alex is kidnapped, Marie has to save her, and the chase is on.  Phillipe Nahon plays The Killer, a French Michael Meyers with poor personal hygiene who enjoys chopping off heads and necrophilia, in that order.
Any director that can wring tension from a scene of someone making a bed is a filmmaker to watch.  Writer and Director Alexandre Aja, who would go on to direct two remakes, The Hills Have Eyes (2008), and Piranha 3D (2010) has yet to realize his full potential in the US.  His latest movie was Horns (2013), with Daniel Radcliffe.
Haute Tension was released in the UK as Switchblade Romance, which is a cool lesbian-chic title even though there are absolutely no switchblades in this movie.  Fire axes, straight razors, chef knives (we’re in France), shotguns, concrete saws and barbed wire wrapped fence posts, yes.  However, no switchblades (also no chainsaws).  The ending is reminiscent of Identity (2003), Psycho (1960), Fight Club (1999), Mulholland Drive (2001) and Mr. Robot, and if you’ve seen those you will know exactly what I’m talking about.  There’s probably a sub-genre of movies concerning this specific twist, and like the best of these movies, knowing the ending only serves to make the second viewing more intense.


my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4 book supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.