Haute (High) Tension: Where do you stand?

Discussion in 'Reader Polls' started by Hellbilly, Jan 19, 2005.

?

Vote

  1. Great film!

    55.6%
  2. This movie sucks!

    3.2%
  3. I hated the ending

    20.6%
  4. I haven't watched it yet but will (soon)

    19.8%
  5. I will never watch this

    0.8%
  1. maybrick

    maybrick Well-Known Member

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    I think it's pretty on topic. Ash said he couldn't understand why an ending could destroy a person's prior enjoyment and I gave two real world (albeit exaggerated) examples of how this may happen. Sometimes things happen that leave a person so disgusted that it fouls whatever came beforehand.
     
  2. X-human

    X-human I ate my keys

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    What's the fun in that? I'm not paying good money to see some mediocre by the book movie. For me the ending brought the whole film up a peg. Suddenly the main character's struggle takes on a whole new meaning and personifies her internal struggle. No other ending could have done it as well. I've yet to hear any suggestions, none the less better ones. It works. It's not rocket science, but it works.

    I don't see people complaining about Psycho. This is really identical to that. The reality of Psycho is that it's a guy running around in a dress, laughable if you think about it, yet that doesn't ruin the scenes when you watch it again.

    A laundry list of movies, books, comics, and endless forms of other entertainment all use unreliable narrators and twist endings not unlike Haute Tension. Yet people feel cheated NOW when it's done decades and in many ways centuries after such narratives have been introduced? Come on, you've had plenty of time to get over such trickery.
     
  3. Buddusky

    Buddusky New Member

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    I thought it was a good film, not amazing but I enjoyed it and thought it had a good ending also.
     
  4. Anaestheus

    Anaestheus Well-Known Member

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    The problem with HT for me is not with the ending of the narrative. I like that. I think it's a solid ending. My problem is with the tricks that Aja uses to ensure that it is a surprise. Films that have used the unreliable narrator successfully hinge on establishing that the story IS being narrated, as in Usual Suspects or 300. Or it relies on establishing that EVERYTHING we see is from a single characters perspective. Lynch pulls this off a lot. In fiction, this is called establishing first person, third person or third person limited narrative. Aja consistently breaks the established narrative perspective in order to hide his surprise and for no other reason. If Marie is telling us this story from her perspective, then there is no way that she can include the scenes like the detectives at the gas station in her narrative without being aware that she has a split personality at the time of the telling.

    Let's look at another film that does something similar. Major spoilers in here for Lucky Number Slevin, so don't read if you want a nice twist with that film.

    LNS relies on the audience believing a story that the character Slevin tells about getting his nose broken. We see this from an omnipresent perspective. So, as an audience, we assume that this is true and it helps to establish to the audience who Slevin is as a character. Later, the audience learns that this story is a lie and that Slevin is not who we thought he was. But, this is not a cheat in the sense of the film as it is firmly established that the Slevin is narrating the story and visually, there is a slight departure in style from the rest of the film serving as an additional clue. So, when the reveal comes at the end, you realize that you were tricked, but you can appreciate the director's skill in manipulating you.

    And with Psycho, there is no point in the film where you are told that things you witnessed didn't happen. Everything that you saw is what actually happened.

    With HT, Aja allows the camera to move freely in and out of the character perspective without ever cluing the audience in as to what perspective we are in at any point in time. I think that is just bad story telling. In essence, he is playing 3-Card Monte with the audience and blind-folding us as he shuffles so that we can't see that he has removed the 3 of hearts from the table.

    Sixth Sense is an excellent example of how the camera can remain in the same perspective through out the film and still trick the viewer by playing on the standard assumptions of what we are seeing. The camera seems to be omnipresent and we assume that it is. But, once the reveal happens, our perspective changes and we are asked to reconsider how those deceptive scenes played out. And we can go back and see where our assumptions were CONSISTENTLY wrong. With Aja, the accuracy of our assumptions changes constantly because the camera is constantly changing perspective with out indication. The only way to make sense of the film is understand Aja's random rules once the play is over. With the Sixth Sense, you can go back and see how your one assumption changes all the scenes with a particular character. With Aja's film, all you can say is well, most of this never happened, but some of it did, and some of it happened in a different way, except for these two scenes here, they actually happened just like that. There are no rules for Aja.

    So, I like the ending and I do think the film does a great job with its suspense sequences, but it takes some of the joy away that I can't appreciate the director's skill in tricking me.
     
  5. Ash28M

    Ash28M Active Member

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    And yet I forgot about Lucky Number Slevin the minute after it was over and The Sixth Sense is rarely ever talked about among horror fans anymore. However imperfect Haute Tension is, it will be remembered and talked about for years to come and is one of the crowning jewels of this decade.
     
  6. x666x

    x666x Well-Known Member

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    Bang on again, Ash28M

    Personally, I never liked Sixth Sense and less people seem to have anything good to say about the director in general nowadays. Blair Witch has been recently mentioned here only because the directors want to release a longer version of it.

    HT will be remembered. I just hope Aja breaks from his remake situation. Now the guys behind L'Interior are doing a follow up Halloween remake was it? Wasted talent, being used to churn out remakes for a washed up Hollywood. Still awaiting Nacho Cerda's next move. I am surprised he hasn't blown up in popularity. Criminal, but that's for another discussion.
     
  7. Shock Waves

    Shock Waves New Member

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    I've hesitated on commenting, but I will say after only one viewing, it stuck with me. Especially the hiding in the closet bedroom murder scene.

    There was a lot of tension in the scene that reminded me of some later Hitchcock stuff (Frenzy..albeit minus the blood) usually a positive sign for me.
    I haven't taken the time to digest the film, but it was disturbing.
    I'll have to give it another go.
     
  8. spawningblue

    spawningblue Deadite

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    Maybe that most of the movie is her story, her point of view. But they just add the scenes with the cops as it's probably in their report, so they know those scenes happened, it's the rest that they need the girl to fill us in with.
     
  9. hegemon13

    hegemon13 Guest

    Poor Ending Because...

    Let me start by saying that, up until the ending, I thought this was going to be one of the best thrillers ever. Here is why the ending ruined it.

    1. They cheated. Rather than drop subtle clues, the director withheld information and flat-out deceived the audience about what was going on. I have heard lots of theories (maybe it's just her point of view, blah, blah, blah), but they amount to apologetics. If a director is going to use a twist ending, he needs to be thorough enough to leave no doubt in the viewer's mind that, yes, this makes sense. Instead, this felt tacked on, like a twist for twist's sake.

    2. It makes re-watching the movie pointless and bland. Most of the movie revolves around the threat to the main character. Once we know that she is never really in any danger, it lets all the steam out of the most intense scenes. The movie lives up to its name until it cuts off its own legs with this poorly-conceived ending.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  10. Ash28M

    Ash28M Active Member

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    1. There are a bunch of subtle clues throughout the film. I will also argue that if the clues weren't as subtle it would negate all tension the minute you had any indication that it was her doing the killing.


    2. I actually enjoy re-watching it more BECUASE of the ending. looking for the clues and catching stuff you didn't notice the last time. I don't understand how it would be pointless to re-watch it? Even if there wasn't a twist you would still know what was going to happen so the tension isn't as high anyway.
     
  11. Ash28M

    Ash28M Active Member

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    I would personally disagree about Blair Witch. I think it is a classic. Part of the reason we don't bring it up as much is because we know it just results in blood shed. :)
     
  12. allmessedup

    allmessedup It's beer time.

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    Twist-reliant films generally don't stand up well for me. I barely remember this movie.
     
  13. X-human

    X-human I ate my keys

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    That's true of any horror movie, as you know who lives or who dies the second time you see it. Where's the suspense in that? You could even say that there's no suspense because you know even if a character is killed the actor is never killer or in real danger.

    None if it is actually happening it's all actors acting. No one is ever really in any real danger ever. It's all fake. So people are complaining that even the fake is fake? Fake is still fake, no matter how you twist it.

    If you just follow the logic of "it's a cheat because it never happened" and then apply that logic to other movies, it's the same problem all over again. How about Usual Suspects? It won an Oscar for best screenplay. That has the same "problem" too.
     
  14. maybrick

    maybrick Well-Known Member

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    I suppose the issue for me is neither here nor there: I didn't like HAUTE TENSION even before the twist was revealed. That merely descended the entire film to a whole new level of "suck" for me. I knew it was going to be a turd right from the Skull Fuck sequence.
     
  15. X-human

    X-human I ate my keys

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    Oh, well yeah. If the whole movie sucked to you, then yeah, sure I can buy that.
     

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