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The Moon vs "High Tension"

While I don't think this would be a repeating series or recurring theme, it is something that crosses my mind a lot. I'm known for having the things I like and don't like and I have my reasons, good or bad, for it. I figure, if I'm going to have a "platform" of sorts, I might as well have fun with it, right?

That brings us here today where I'm going to state my case against the movie "High Tension", a 2003 French horror film written by Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur, directed by Aja, and starring Cecile de France and Maiwenn. (Should be noted that some of these names use non-English characters and I don't know how to do them on my laptop, but if I get a chance to edit and change them from my phone or I otherwise learn, I'll make the changes out of respect. Names are important.)

I feel it's important to note that this post WILL contain spoilers! I WILL tell you what happens in this movie and I WILL be discussing the ending! If you feel like you would rather watch the movie first for yourself, this would be the time to save this page/post, watch the movie, and come back.

Before I get into it, I feel that it's important that I tell you all that I really do LOVE this movie. No lie! If you watch this movie just as a slasher film, it's fun. My issue is with the movie's twist ending. I feel a particular way about it and I'll explain that in this piece.

Now, I feel it's only fair that I share the story of the movie first, and then break down my issues with it. Again, if you want to watch the movie first, you should, but I'm going to hopefully share the plot and my thoughts in a clear enough form that it's not required.

Jesus, Moon, what would make you do a piece like this?

See, I knew you'd show up eventually... whoever you are... but I'll answer that one. The short answer is that I was on Twitter when someone from the writing community asked for horror movie recommendations. Someone suggested "High Tension" (or Haute Tension in French), I replied, and my and that commenter had a fun discussion about the movie. After that, I made the decision to watch the entire movie and take notes on the whole thing. This is a decision that I would eventually regret, only because it took so long, but I endured!.

And now, the story: The movie follows Alex and Marie as they travel to Alex's house for a study trip. Should be noted for clarity, Alex is female. At the same time, seemingly in the general area of Alex's family house, a killer is seen, how to put this mildly, fornicating with a severed woman's head.

The two arrive to Alex's family house and the two are greeted by Alex's father and the family dog.. Alex's mother and younger brother have already gone to sleep. Alex gives Marie a quick tour of the house and settle in while the father finishes up some work in his study. Alex and Marie sit in the kitchen for a bit talking about boys and Alex goes to bed while Marie has a smoke outside.

While outside Marie sees Alex showering through a window and watches her for a time. Marie comes inside, lays in bed, turns on her portable cassette player, puts on some headphones, and masturbates. As this is happening, headlights of the killer's truck are shown coming down the road leading to Alex's family house. (There are a lot of scene cuts in this part that show Marie pleasuring herself with her hand in her pants, so nothing graphic, the killer's truck coming down the road, and the family asleep in their rooms. This is clearly the "Things are about to happen so know where everyone is" scenes.)

Dad is woken up by the sounds of the doorbell ringing. He gets up to answer it and it attacked through one of the windows in the door. The killer lets himself in, attacks Dad again, sticks his head through the banister, and knocks his head off with a table, (Let's not forget - this is a horror movie!)

Marie, upon completion, hears the dog barking, looks out the window, and see a man at the front door attack and let himself in. She's frozen in fear in the guest room on the third floor.

Mom, hearing the commotion downstairs goes to check and finds Dad and the dog dead, and sees a man wielding a barber's razor blade standing by the door. Scared stiff, she's attacked by the killer. Marie hears this attack and looks for a way out to no avail. As she attempts to find an escape the killer hears her and comes to check the room. Marie hides all signs someone's there and successfully hides. Killer leaves in search of Alex.

Having alluded the killer, Marie looks through the 2nd floor for a phone to call 911...

Are you seriously telling us the WHOLE movie?!

Yes, it's important. Anyway, having alluded the killer, Marie looks through the 2nd floor for a phone to call 911. She sees a cordless phone receiver in Mom and Dad's room. Marie hears someone coming and, assuming it's the killer, she hides in the closet. Mom crawls in, looking for the phone as well. Still hiding in the closet, she witnesses the killer catch up with Mom, slitting her throat, right in front of Marie.

The killer goes to Alex's room and chains her up. Marie would find Alex, gagged and bound, and hear the killer and the younger brother outside in a cornfield. Shortly thereafter, a gunshot fires and you realize the killer has killed the younger brother.

Speeding this up a tad, Alex is bound and Marie has so far alluded the killer. Marie looks downstairs for a phone - the line is cut. Marie grabs a kitchen knife for self defense. There, she sees the killer take Alex to the back of the truck. Marie sneaks in the back of the truck, with Alex, as the killer drives away from the family house.

The killer stops at the gas station to fill up the truck and Marie manages to escape but not before leaving the kitchen knife with Alex for protection in case she doesn't return. She hides inside the store, confusing the clerk. The killer comes in to pay and sees the clerk acting strange. After a short exchange, the killer kills the clerk. The killer then looks for whatever made the clerk act strange, but doesn't find Marie. He leaves with Alex, still bound in the back. Marie takes the clerk's car and follows the killer.

The killer leads Marie to a forest area where she is noticed by the killer and the roles are reversed. The killer, now chasing behind Marie, runs her off short cliff, landing near an old greenhouse. This is where the climatic fight between the killer and Marie happens, with Marie, obviously picking up the win.

When she went to rescue Alex, and this is where the twist comes in, Alex is terrified of Marie, telling her to stay away from her! As the police arrive to the gas station (Marie called the cops after the killer left to report the murders at her friend's house and the gas station) they review the security footage (that we previously saw with the killer) and see Marie is the one who killed the clerk! Other montages would show each family member's murder take place by the hand of Marie, hence why Alex is scared of her. After an exchange, Alex attacks Marie and Marie ends up in an asylum.

Whew! That was a lot. Now, my case against: The twist doesn't fit with the movie.

As with most movies that contain a "twist" or "swerve", once the viewer learns the truth, the view can rewatch the movie, starting from the beginning, and see the clues that lead to the truth. This, in my opinion, is not the case. Here are five points -

1 . At the gas station, Marie escapes the truck, but leaves a knife, with Alex, before going inside. This is the same knife used by Alex in the final scene. If Marie is the killer and thus driving the truck, how would Alex get the knife, the same knife Marie got from the kitchen as Alex was being carried away to the truck?

2. As Alex is leaving the house, over the shoulder of the killer, she makes eye contact with Marie, who's hiding in the kitchen. How does that work. Also, bonus, Marie is much smaller in stature. There is no sensible way to believe that Marie would able to wrestle off Alex to be locked up in those big, heavy chains, and then carry, over the shoulder no less, Alex + chains to the back of the truck.

3. Where did she get the chains in the first place? Maybe she could have packed them, but that doesn't seem logical. Why even bother to go to the family house to "be with Alex alone" if they already were before leaving school? Why such the extra steps to murder her family?

4. The Chase scene. Some will say "It's all in her mind", but she sustained injuries from the fight and the crash. The crash in a car she couldn't have taken if she was driving the truck. No car, no crash, no crash-related injuries.

5. Marie and Alex drive together, in Alex's car, to her family's house. If Marie is the killer and the killer is Marie, WHERE THE HELL DID THE TRUCK COME FROM?!?!!? Also, the truck had multiple pictures of past victims, including, I believe, the woman whose head was... utilized... in the beginning of the movie.

The movie does try to plant the seed in the opening, where Marie daydreams the ending sequence and wakes up to tell Alex that she had a dream of her chasing herself through the woods, as if she and the killer who's chasing her were one in the same. Doesn't work out to me.

As I said at the beginning, if you don't think about it too much, it's a really fun movie to watch. It's just, as a writer, or at least a horror fan that likes to pay attention, the twist doesn't pan out. If they just left it with the killer is defend and the girls make it back only for the killer to return, kill one last minute, to be finally beaten by the other, it'd worked better for me.

Now, if there is anyone out there that can clear up this issues with things I've missed, I'm all ears - or find me on Twitter @DLHearnWrites

- The Moon

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