High Tension all the way
By Jim Gray
, 11 Apr 2005
This is French director's Alexandre Aja's throwback to the kind of horror films we used to guilelessly enjoy somewhere between the early 70's to the very early 80's. Switchblade Romance is a tour-de-force slasher film that pulls absolutley no punches and makes no excuses for what it is. It exists to entertain its target audience and nothing more, and this it does in spades. The premise is simple: Alex, played by Maiwenn Le Besco (The Fifth Element) is visiting her parents' isolated farmhouse. Accompanying her is her friend Marie, played by Cecile De France (Around the world in 80 days). What they don't know, however, is that they wont be the only ones dropping by. I'll get straight to it: Switchblade Romance (original title: High Tension) plays like Tobe Hooper's Texas Chainsaw Massacre spliced with William Lustig's Maniac. For example, not only do we get a completely OTT buzzsaw scene near the film's climax, but also a particularly nail-biting restroom sequence that plays right out of Lustig's aforementioned sleaze-opus. The entire tone of the film is much heavier, much darker than what we've become accustomed to of late, and this is no bad thing at all. As gruelling as they are delightful, are the scenes in which Phillipe Nahon's grunting psychopath mercilessly works his way through the farmhouse in ridiculously bloody fashion. Special Make-up fx come courtesy of Italian veteran (or should I say legend) Giannetto De Rossi (Demons; Zombie Flesh eaters), and is surely some of the best work he's done in years. Overall, I'd say Switchblade Romance is possibly the best horror film in over a decade, and easily the best slasher film since Michele Soavi's 1987 Stagefright (also highly recommended). The script and direction are kept tight, the performances, especially from Cecille De France, are excellent, and the choice of Muse's 'NewBorn', as the film's obligatory rock track, is the cherry on top of this particularly satisfying slice of genre cinema.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO SEE THIS FILM? Because it's brilliant, pure and simple.
WHY YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO SEE THIS FILM? Because films with subtitles, no matter how highly recommended, are a dish best scraped into the bin.
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