SXSW Film Reviews

SXSW Film Reviews

Haute Tension

D: Alexandre Aja; with Cécile de France, Maïwenn le Besco, Philippe Nahon, Oana Pellea

Narrative Feature 'Round Midnight, Regional Premiere

If you were one of the few, the brave, the thoroughly repulsed who managed to catch this French import at Harry Knowles' latest Butt-Numb-a-Thon like we did, then you already know that Mel Gibson is a lightweight when it comes to the old ultraviolence. Never mind the scourging; Aja's tale of two young women (de France and le Besco) and the mad-dog killer who loves them is as pure a slasher flick as anyone's seen in years, with zero irony and enough NC-17-rated grue to float a battleship made of body parts. Aja handles tension like a butcher handles brains, and with Lucio Fulci's effects wizard Gianetto de Rossi on board to red-paint the gore-gore girls, this slick, slippery descent into hell makes most of its American contemporaries look downright dull.

(Arbor, March 20, 9:45pm)

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