High Tension and The Changeling

This week’s search for Halloween merriment had me watching two very different horror films (or 2.5 different films, you’ll see what I mean). Here is the part where I review both High Tension and The Changeling.


Wow.  Where to begin?  I’d call this an ugly movie, but it seems like such an insult to all the ugly movies out there.  This is a French movie from a few years ago.  The director went on to helm the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, which I can only assume is just as brutal as this.

I’d describe the plot to you, but there isn’t one, just a series of things that… happen.  The film begins with a two friends, Marie and Alexia (I had to look those up, by the way), who are going to visit Alexia’s family.  Little do they know that a psychopath who drives a scary truck and likes to fuck severed heads is in in the area, as well.  The rest of the movie goes like this…

Marie masturbates…
Truck driver kills people…
Horrible plot twist…
The End.

Seriously.  That’s what happens.

I should discuss the plot twist.  A lot of people thought the twist in The Village was crap, but this tops it without even trying.  Why?  Because it completely invalidates the previous hour and fifteen minutes of the movie.  Here, I’ll throw in a spoiler warning.

SPOI–Marie has multiple personalities and is the killer!!!!–NING

Maybe they thought it was edgy or something.  It creates a few problems in the movie, however, such as…

How on Earth did Marie arrive with Alexia, then drive up a truck full of killing implements?
How did Marie have a car chase with herself?
In two different cars?
How did the gas station attendant seem to not know Marie, but know her other personality who walked into the store two minutes later while Marie ran and hid in the back of the store?!

Run away from this movie.  For the sake of all that is Holy and Good, run the fuck away!


Released in 1980, The Changeling stars George C Scott as a widowed composer who takes a teaching job in a new location.  He ends up renting a mansion from the historical society, finds it to be haunted, then slowly learns that something nasty, something reaching all the way into the upper branches of business and government, happened there.

This is really two movies in one, with the first being a haunted house story, and the latter half being a mystery/conspiracy flick.  The horror aspect is great, probably one of the best ghost stories ever filmed.  The house and its foibles are downright terrifying.  The mystery half is a little weaker, mostly because Scott seems to decide he can ignore the obviously haunted house because, dammit, there’s a mystery to be solved.  He’s kind of like an older version of Fred from the Scooby Gang.

I would actually label Scott’s acting one of the film’s weaknesses.  The man simply refuses to act frightened.  When he spies a dead child in a bathtub that’s somehow managed to fill itself, he literally takes three steps backward and cocks an eyebrow.  You almost want to dub a Keanu “Whoa!” over it just to get some pathos.  Later, when a seance is held (one of the films scarier moments), Scott just sits there like a statue.  He does the same thing when he plays back a tape of the seance and hears a ghostly voice, or when the ball he just threw in the river comes bouncing down the stairs.  You half-expect him to suddenly say “Jesus Christ, I’m stoned!”  At least that would explain his behavior.

All in all, though, The Chageling is a fine film, one of the best horror/thrillers from the 80’s.  Check it out at once!