Alexandre Aja
2003, France, 87 minutes

Warning: this film is an unrelenting exercise in brutal gory horror—I’m not kidding.

“Haute Tension is an uncompromising horror film that flies in the face of politically correct teen slasher fare from North America. Taking his cue from the suffocating soundtrack and claustrophobic rhythms of Gaspar Noe’s tale of urban horror Irreversible (IndieFest 2003), Alexandre Aja layers his visuals with a dense soundscape that envelops the desperate nocturnal chase. Don’t bother to close your eyes against the grisly images on the screen, for the soundtrack is every bit as frightening and suffocating.”

—Toronto International Film Festival

I totally agree. When Haute Tension received its North American premiere in Toronto, it instantly became the “Oh my God! Did you see…?” film. If your idea of terrifying is The Blair Witch Project, the American remake of The Ring or the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then you don’t want to watch this.

But if you want to see something really scary… Or, if you’re already an aficionado of the hardcore horror that takes you to places you don’t want to go, and abandons you there—then step right up. We are only too happy to admit you to this evening’s nightmarish exercise in Grand Guignol stalk and slash. Ladies and Gentlemen—it’s almost midnight and the Chamber of Horrors is open for business. Just keep repeating, It’s only a movie.

And don’t bother looking for comic relief—there isn’t any. If you’re laughing at this, then I’m afraid of you.

—Bruce Fletcher