*If you can’t tell from the title, spoilers below!*
Two best friends travel to one of their parents’ countryside homes for some relaxing downtime to study for their exams.
Through a not so subtle masturbation scene, we learn that the girl is a lesbian, and attracted to her friend. Okay, that adds an interesting dynamic. The stakes are higher for her to save her when- that very night- a surly trucker comes inside the house to kill the whole family and terrifyingly, for no reason. The violence is brutal and bloody, unsettling but you still can’t look away.
Our main character, Marie survives the killings and goes after the trucker when he kidnaps her friend. She follows him to a gas station in a sequence that leaves the audience on the edge of our seats. Is Marie going to get caught? Is she going to save her friend? There is indeed high tension and anticipation about what’s going to happen.
The tension builds up until a scene in the forest where Marie finally kills the trucker. It is a total FUCK YES! kind of moment, and great to see a female (and queer) character save the day with such courage and tenacity.
And then the twist happens…
Marie returns to Alex, who is hidden in his truck. But we see that Alex is afraid of Marie, wants her to stay away. Then we cut to the police viewing what really happened at the gas station. We learn that Marie was the killer all along. She killed her friend’s family and kidnaps her because she is hopelessly in love with her. Her engaging character suddenly turns into the most absurd cliches. So, in the end, Marie is just a crazy delusional psycho lesbian.
Marie attacks Alex with a concrete chainsaw, but the director keeps cutting back to the trucker killer that we now know isn’t real. Why do you keep cutting back?? We get it. Just stick to your twist and show Marie in her rampaging mania. If this was the pay off all along, let it play out and let us see it.
What’s so disappointing about this ending is that the beginning was done so impeccably. It was a fantastic home invasion thriller with an engaging and fierce lead character. It lived up to it’s title so well that it is unfortunate that the twisted ending was such a let down.
High Tension had huge potential to be a well-regarded horror film. If it even had ended with her killing the man, that would have been satisfying. Or some other kind of twist? Anything other than the “My split personality did it” twist we’ve seen countless times.