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High Tension (2003)

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Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Alexandre Aja and co-writer Gregory Levasseur Rating: no votes yetLogin to vote or review
Reviewed by iwantmytvm on May 17th, 2020:Find all reviews by iwantmytvm
The title, High Tension, has a dual meaning in French. Also meaning high voltage, but the film is all about tension and contrast. Contrast between light and dark, quiet and sound, quick editing and long takes, and shifts in tone.

Aja and Levasseur have known each other since they were children, where they spent summers at a country house similar to the setting for this film which was certainly an inspiration. They filmed in Romania, which was a cheaper option than the south of France. The house was a former mill which they redressed, and tried to give it a feel like that of the house in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

They were more inspired by 70s horror films by Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper, along with the Shining and Maniac, which they pay hommage with some Easter eggs. They were not aware of the remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre that was being made at the same time, and believe that both this film and the remake were paying tribute to the original. An actual French serial killer was a source of inspiration as well. Phillipe Nahon was reluctant to play this role, wanting to play more kindly grandfather roles instead.

They appreciated the level of control they had on this film, not having to deal with extras and as many other challenges, after working as 2nd unit on larger budget action films. They were pleased with the work of the director of photography - it was his first film. They point out how the score and sound design were intended to blend and give some insights on how they created the slash killing sounds. To accurately depict the gore, they asked a coroner how much blood would be produced and how far it would spray.

This is a candid track. They point out some mistakes, happy accidents, some lighting they do not like which followed a suggestion from the producers that the film was too dark. They note how difficult some driving scenes were, in particular creating the lighting for night driving in the forest. All of the effects were practical and done in camera. The next crew who used one of the cameras after this film reported that it had blood in it and started bleeding.
Commentary 2: Director Alexandre Aja and actor Cecile De France Rating: no votes yetLogin to vote or review
Reviewed by iwantmytvm on May 17th, 2020:Find all reviews by iwantmytvm
This is a selected scene commentary of only 47 minutes and there is a lot of repetition from the above track. Aja gives a more streamlined version of what he and Levasseur discussed. De France talks about her preparation and training for the role, to build up her endurance, and also her mindset during filming. She was barefoot for much of the shoot, to include being in the filthy restroom, which still retained a foul odor after an intense cleaning. She recalls that fake blood is sticky and also enjoyed working with the collaborators as mentioned in the other track.