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Thursday, May 23, 2024

High Tension (Limited Edition) (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


When best friends Marie and Alex decide to spend time at Alex's family's home in the countryside, a homicidal maniac shows up who starts killing everyone in Alex's family leaving the two women to fight for their lives.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

French filmmaker Alexandre Aja co-wrote and directed the slasher/horror Haute Tension, also known as Switchblade Romance or High Tension in English. Best friends Marie (Cécile De France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco) take a trip to the French countryside to visit Alex’s parents and have a stay at their farmhouse. As the night goes on it becomes clear that Marie may be harboring romantic feelings for Alex, as evidenced by her lingering stares at a naked Alex through a window when she steps outside for some night air. But the night takes a turn when a homicidal delivery man in a dilapidated truck (played by Philippe Nahon from Gaspar Noé’s films) shows up and begins brutally killing everyone. Alex and Marie are left to fight for their lives. Marie must then save Alex when this maniac kidnaps her to take her to his lair.

A literal “high tension” slasher that alludes to so many genre tropes and classic films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho, and even the 2017 rape revenge film Revenge, Aja’s film is cloaked in darkness, female power, and cleverly turns the “last girl” trope on its head with a shocking twist. The gore does not let up in this film, but it is not the gore that is the core of High Tension, rather the struggle for survival and the relationship between the two women. The story is gripping, adrenalin fueled, and tautly directed from opening to the very end.

  • Maïwenn in High Tension (2003)
  • Cécile de France in High Tension (2003)
  • Maïwenn in High Tension (2003)
Maïwenn in High Tension (2003)
  • Maïwenn in High Tension (2003)
  • Cécile de France in High Tension (2003)
  • Cécile de France and Maïwenn in High Tension (2003)
  • High Tension (Limited Edition) (Second Sight Films)

The Video

(Editor’s Note: The 4K disc I received was region-locked to region B) (Editor’s Note: There was an error on the discs sent out to reviewers. The final product 4K discs will not be region-locked, as told to me by the PR person for Second Sight Films)

High Tension was originally shot in the Super 35 format and comes to 4K Ultra HD from Second Sight Films in the only approved HDR version in a 2.35:1 HEVC 2160p (4k UHD) HDR10+ encodement approved by the director. The HDR10 metadata shows a MaxLL of 1000 nits and MaxFALL of 300 nits. The film has natural grain throughout and is what one would expect to see from a film shot in the format. It is a bit on the grainy side especially since most of the film is low-lit. The HDR10+ grading (my display plays back in core HDR10 only) is subtle, bit good, adding nuance to the shadows and just the right amount of color gradients to lighting and specular highlight ‘pop.’ The scene with Marie in the gas station restroom best shows the strengths of the transfer, offering color differentials, good shadow nuance, and excellent specular highlights.

The Audio

The French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio mix is atmospheric and very suitable to the content. The surround channels sound a little too beefy, but overall, the mix works and is mostly balanced, with clean sound, good mid-range, and a natural dynamic range. There is also a LPCM 2.0 stereo mix that sounds more forward, but also works well with good stereo imaging.

The Supplements

For this limited edition Second Sight provides a wonderful bit of collectible content in their usual high-quality packaging. The on disc extras include a fascinating audio commentary and a visual essay by the always informed and interesting Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.

Limited Edition Contents:

  • Rigid slipcase with new artwork by James Neal
  • 70-page book with new essays by Anna Bogutskaya, Prince Jackson, Stacie Ponder and Zoë Rose Smith
  • Six collectors’ art card

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary with Dr. Lindsay Hallam
  • An Experiment in Suspense: An Interview with Director Alexandre Aja (1080p; 00:35:17)
  • The Man in the Shadows: An Interview with Writer Grégory Levasseur (1080p; 00:19:06)
  • The Darker the Better: An Interview with Cinematographer Maxime Alexandre (1080p; 00:17:56)
  • The Great French Massacre: An Interview with Special Effects Artist Giannetto de Rossi (1080p; 000:17:53) freak-o-rama
  • Only the Brave: Alexandra Heller-Nicholas on High Tension (1080p; 00:13:27)
  • Archive ‘Making Of’ Featurette (1080p; 00:38:05)
  • Archive Interview with Cécile de France (1080p; 00:22:57)
  • Archive Interview with Maïwenn (1080p; 00:05:48)
  • Archive Interview with Phillippe Nahon (1080p; 00:05:28)

The Final Assessment

An excellent horror film for genre fans that throws a wrench into the mix, includes magnificent performances and direction, and looks as good as it gets for a film of this nature on 4K from Second Sight Films.

High Tension (Limited Edition) is out on 4K Ultra HD in the UK December 11, 2023, from Second Sight Films.

  • Rating Certificate: UK:18
  • Studios & Distributors: Alexandre Films | EuropaCorp | Second Sight Films
  • Director: Alexandre Aja
  • Written By: Alexandre Aja | Grégory Levasseur
  • Run Time: 91 Mins.
  • Street Date: 11 December 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10+ (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 1000 nits
    • MaxFALL: 300 nits
  • Primary Audio: French DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: French LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English

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When best friends Marie and Alex decide to spend time at Alex's family's home in the countryside, a homicidal maniac shows up who starts killing everyone in Alex's family leaving the two women to fight for their lives.High Tension (Limited Edition) (4K UHD Review)