Haute Tension: Wikis


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Haute Tension

Original French-language poster
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Produced by Alexandre Arcady
Robert Benmussa
Written by Alexandre Aja
Grégory Levasseur
Starring Cécile de France
Maïwenn Le Besco
Philippe Nahon
Music by Francois-Eudes Chanfrault
Cinematography Maxime Alexandre
Editing by Baxter
Distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment (U.S.)
Release date(s) June 18, 2003 (France)
September 24, 2004 (UK)
June 10, 2005 (Canada, U.S.)
August 8, 2006 (Australia)
Running time 91 min.
Country France
Language French
Budget €2,200,000
Gross revenue $6,291,958 (US)

Haute Tension (released as Switchblade Romance in the UK and High Tension in North America) is a French horror film originally released in 2003, and later released in 2004 in the UK and 2005 in the U.S. and Canada. The film, directed by Alexandre Aja, stars Cécile de France, Maïwenn Le Besco and Philippe Nahon.

Haute Tension was picked up by independent distributor Lions Gate Entertainment following a successful screening at the Midnight Madness section of the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. Originally rated NC-17 in the USA, a few graphic shots were cut from the final version of the U.S. release to get it down to the R rating. However, the original cut (referred to as an unrated version) is available on DVD.

All of the effects are created by renowned horror make-up artist Giannetto De Rossi, a favorite of late director Lucio Fulci.



College friends Marie (Cécile de France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), are on their way to stay at Alex's parent's house for the weekend. When they arrive, Alex gives Marie a tour of the house before they settle down for dinner. After dinner, Marie and Alex get ready to go to bed.

As Alex sleeps, Marie lies on her bed listening to music and masturbating. Marie hears a doorbell ring and Alex's father responding. The man at the door is a serial killer, who slashes Alex's father and decapitates him. Marie hears all this from her bedroom. She arranges her room to make it appear that no one is staying there, and hides under her bed. The killer inspects Marie's room but doesn't find her. Marie creeps downstairs and finds Alex chained in her bedroom. Promising to find help, she sneaks into the parent's room to find a phone. After hearing loud thuds, she hides in the closet, and witnesses the killing of Alex's mother. Alex's younger brother escapes the house but is followed to the fields by the killer and shot. Alex is dragged into the killer's truck. Marie sneaks into the truck with a butcher knife and hides there with Alex.

When the killer stops at a gas station, Marie hands Alex the knife and sneaks into the gas station before him. She witnesses the killing of the store clerk. Marie takes the clerk's car keys and chases the killer down a deserted road. The killer notices Marie following him, and rams Marie's vehicle, pushing her car off the road. Exiting on foot, Marie runs into the forest, and the killer follows her. Eventually, Marie mortally wounds the killer with a pole that has barbed wire wrapped around it. As Marie inspects the body, he grabs at her throat, so Marie suffocates him with a plastic sheet. After that, she makes her way back to the truck.

Police investigating the gas station murders view the in-store videotape, and see Marie murdering the store clerk. At the truck, Marie unties Alex. As soon as Alex is free, she threatens Marie with the knife and accuses her of butchering her family. Alex slashes Marie's face and stabs her in the stomach before running into the forest. Marie chases Alex with a concrete saw. Alex finds a road and flags down a car. As Alex is climbing into the car, Marie appears brandishing the concrete saw. Marie shoves the concrete saw through the wind shield and disembowels the driver. A stray piece of glass slices Alex's Achilles tendon. Alex takes a crowbar from the car's toolbox and crawls along the road. Marie forces Alex to tell her that she loves her, and kisses her. While engaged in the kiss, Alex lunges the crowbar into the killer's chest and through her back while the killer proclaims how she'll never let anyone come between them. The final scene shows Marie in a psychiatric hospital room, and Alex watching her through a one way mirror. Marie grins and reaches for Alex, aware that she is behind it.

Scenes cut for an R rating

Some scenes were edited from Haute Tension for the U.S. version to achieve an R rating by the MPAA. About two minutes of the film were cut in order to avoid the NC-17 Rating. The R-rated edition was released in U.S. cinemas, and in a less widely circulated DVD. This section notes what was deleted from the unrated, original French film to produce the American version.[citation needed]

  • Alex's father is graphically decapitated with a bookcase, his headless neck spraying blood. In the R-rated version, the initial killing is implicit rather than explicit, and later, during a flashback, his killing is gone.
  • The scene of the killer applying a concrete saw to the stomach of the man driving the car was shortened.
  • When Alex's mother has her throat slashed, the scene is shortened; most of the arterial spurting, as the killer pulls back her head, is gone. The shot of her severed hand also is removed, leaving no indication of what exactly happened to her.
  • The scene where Marie strikes the killer's face in with the barbed wire pole is shortened and less explicit; Marie hits the killer fewer times, and there are fewer details of the killer's wounds shown.
  • Alex's younger brother is followed into a cornfield by the killer. It is implied in the American R version that the young brother is killed. In the original version, the brother is shown being shot by a shotgun blast.


Haute Tension received mixed reviews in North America. It holds a 42% rating from review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes,[1] and a score of 42 on Metacritic, classifying it as having received "mixed or average reviews."[2]

Roger Ebert was very negative about the film, giving it one star, saying that it was "poor, nasty, brutish and short," and that it has a plot hole "that is not only large enough to drive a truck through, but in fact does have a truck driven right through it."[3]

Lisa Nesselson of Variety was more forgiving, saying that the film "deftly juggles gore and suspense," has "unnerving sound design," and "has a sinister, hemoglobin look that fits the story like a glove."[4]

The London-based band Switchblade Romance derives its name from the film, and claims that it is one of its biggest influences.

Similarity to Dean Koontz's novel Intensity

Many critics of Haute Tension have cited that, up until the last few minutes, the film's plot bears a striking resemblance to that of Dean Koontz's 1995 novel Intensity, which also deals with a young woman visiting the rural home of her friend's family, witnessing a brutal massacre in which all or most of the family members are killed, and then stowing away in the madman's vehicle (in the novel, a large motor home) in a futile attempt to rescue her friend. The novel also includes a scene where the heroine attempts to get help from the clerks at a gas station, only to witness their brutal murders as well (as in the film, the killer banters with the clerks, toying with them for several minutes before finally killing them), and a scene where the heroine uses a stolen vehicle to try and set a trap for the killer (in fact, it is specifically during the unfolding of this scene that the plot of the film starts to diverge from that of the novel). Intensity was also adapted as a four-hour miniseries on the Fox Network starring John C. McGinley and Molly Parker.


DVD Posters

Reference in Other Media

In the 2008 video game Silent Hill: Homecoming, one of the unlockable weapons is a circular saw. Unlocking the saw earns an achievement (Xbox 360 version) titled Rising Tension.

External links

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