Haute Tension DVD Review
PictureThe main feature is presented in a rather disappointing but nevertheless very broad 2.35:1 aspect ratio non-anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer. It is disappointing because, for such a recent movie, the transfer should be anamorphic but thankfully there have been plenty of other better editions since. This one has reasonable detail, but you can see the lack in quality evident through edge enhancement, frequent softness and light grain. The colour scheme is much more palatable, with decent blood reds and solid blacks making for good shadows, which are predominant across this dark horror. The transfer thankfully exhibited no print damage but I would definitely recommend seeking out an anamorphic alternative as there is clearly some room for improvement here.
SoundWe get two soundtracks here, both in the original French language. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is only marginally superior (again a disappointment) but it does offer some nice directionality, with the dialogue predominantly from the frontal array but some of the screams coming off from the relevant direction. The score is quite dramatic - in all the right places - but is ably assisted by some boisterous Eurovision Song Contest-style tracks that the girls sing along to. Overall, rears tend to merely replicate the input from the frontal array, only to a lesser degree, but with a few directional effects and even a little bass it is not a bad track. The trouble is that for a movie like this you need a thoroughly atmospheric affair, one of the best examples of which has got to be Wes Craven's werewolf movie Cursed. Irrespective of the quality of the story, the audio track proved that a horror can be improved significantly by the way in which it is presented. Here the reverse is also true. Subtitles are extremely good, not only translating what is being said coherently but also forming it into colloquialisms and so forth that make it easier to swallow - for once on an Asian release they have been done to an exceptional standard.
ExtrasThere are text filmographies for the cast and crew, along with a brief text description of the story, but none of them are in English so they are even more worthless. The photo gallery plays a slideshow of stills from the movie itself and there is a US theatrical trailer which does not give away too much.
VerdictHaute Tension is a highly original, thoroughly enjoyable horror from France. It is also a standout introduction to Cecile De France who, based on her performance here, is a hot newcomer to watch out for in the future. The presentation of this movie is a little poor on this release, as are the fairly thin extras. On the other hand, there are plenty of other editions available by now for you to choose from (including an anamorphic, uncut UK release with a wealth of extras including a commentary with De France) and I would highly recommend to horror fans that they pick this one up for their collection. Despite the disappointing ending, it is nevertheless a must-have.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.23
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