The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hollywood (Intermezzo)

[Contains spoilers for the films Adaptation and High Tension.]

In yesterday's Bleat, James Lileks reviews the recent French thriller High Tension, and is less than impressed:
Friday night I watched one of the worst horror movies ever made on any planet, “High Tension.” From the trailer I thought it would be one of those elegant nail-biting cat-and-mouse movies, as our Spunky Lank Gamine Heroine eludes a killer in a farmhouse, but no. It’s another “tribute to the horror films of the 70s,” a genre for which I have no affection, so I FF’d most of it. It’s French, for one thing, and I think French cinema is generally overrated.... But. “High Tension” has one of those post-Sixth Sense “plot twist shockers” that renders the entire movie absolutely meaningless & impossible – but so Fronsh in its own way, non?
Naturally, I read Mr. Lileks's spoiler [cleverly embedded on the page in white-on-white font; I can't wait to see the Google cache]. The incredible chutzpah of the French movie then came clear to me: its plot is that of the Impossibly Bad Screenplay, The 3, which becomes an implausible success in Spike Jonze's Adaptation. Right down to the utterly impossible, self-eviscerating car chase. Mr. Lileks again:
The Spunky Lank Gamine Heroine who battles the mass murderer is – gasp! – a lesbian, and... as we learn about 70% of the way through the movie, the murderer is a figment of her psychotic imagination. She’s been driven mad by suppressed lesbianism... As if this isn’t annoying enough, it makes the entire movie suddenly . . . unimpossible, to quote Ralph Wiggums – there’s a scene in which the killer uses his truck to drive our heroine’s car off the road.
[Emphasis and first two ellipses mine.] Since Adaptation is a relatively recent film [2002], I checked the dates on IMDB -- and High Tension was released in 2003. But so cutting edge. So unorthodox. So daring.