Monday, August 10, 2009

High Tension, 2003

I have wanted to see this movie since its release and just had the opportunity this weekend. Some may remember that director Alexandre Aja is responsible for the 2006 remake of The Hills Have Eyes. Don’t judge him based on that. Aja both wrote and directed High Tension. It stars Cecile De France as Marie and Maiwenn Le Besco as Alexa. Marie and Alexa are headed to Alexa’s parents’ home for a weekend of studying. Shortly after their arrival the entire family is brutally murdered by an ambiguous male character. Personally, I find the random home invasion scenario to be one of the most frightening. These are the only horror movies that I have ever been unable to watch alone.

Technically, this movie is great all the way around. It’s shot very artfully. One particular scene involves Marie hiding in a closet as Alexa’s mother is murdered on the other side of the doors. As she dies, her body slides slowly down the exterior of the closet door and her eyes stare at Marie through each slat in the door all the way down. It was very Argento-esque and quite a lovely scene in a beautifully creepy way. The acting is fantastic and believable. This is a film that you want to watch again, immediately, to catch all the nuances that you wouldn’t have picked up on the first time.

High Tension has no lack of blood and violence for my fellow gorehounds. My only complaint about this movie is that it was acclaimed for the fact that the female lead is the one stalking the killer rather then the usual vice-versa. However, De France was an extremely masculine choice for casting as Marie and, to me, negated the idea of having the female chase the killer. I would have liked to have seen a big-breasted blonde in this role to truly defy the stereotype and I don’t think it would have taken away from the rest of the story. Then again, I am just partial to big-breasted blondes, in general.

Watch the trailer:

Orphan, 2009

If you go into this movie looking for a true horror film, you will be sorely disappointed. If you go in thinking “thriller”, you’ll more then likely enjoy it. I didn’t really know what to expect and left thinking that it was a good movie that could have been great. Orphan stars Isabelle Fuhrman as 9 year-old Esther that has been adopted by a family who recently lost a baby. Fuhrman has mastered the Evil Kid role. She masterfully plays both evil and innocent in a role reminiscent of Patty McCormack’s Rhonda in The Bad Seed (1956).

Without spoiling the ending, I can say that this movie could have been one that left people talking for years. It could have gotten itself banned in several countries. It could have been a great fucking movie. The ending should have a crossed a line that would shock people and leave them shaking their heads as they left the theater. It seems director, Jaume Collet-Serra, decided to go for more money with bigger audiences rather then truly doing the film justice and making it The Cannibal Holocaust of Evil Kid movies that it could have been. Sadly, it falls into just another mediocre movie with too little blood in the vain of The Good Son (1993).

Watch the trailer: