High Tension (2003)

[6.0]

Director/co-writer Alexandre Aja hit the horror scene with this taut, gory French thriller about a young woman staying with a classmate’s family when a home invader attacks. The invader murders the friend’s parents and little brother, then kidnaps the friend. Our young heroine pursues them and eventually confronts the villain… and that’s when High Tension pulls some M. Night Shyamalan-style shenanigans.

I love that this movie almost plays out in real time. The first half is devoted to the home invasion, and the last half to the rescue effort. The gore is very well executed, with believable special effects. The performers are all up to the task, and the killer is pretty nasty — at one point he’s seen pleasuring himself with a severed head. But the movie throws us a huge twist/reversal in its final minutes that makes very little sense and sours all the terrific build-up that came before it.

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