Switchblade Romance

Switchblade Romance


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

With exquisite clarity, Alexandre Aja scares the living daylights out of you.

There is no time to question the credibility of this French serial killer carnage horror flick. The concept is so close to everyone's classic nightmare that it feels familiar.

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Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco) takes her friend Marie (Cecile De France) to stay with her parents at their isolated farmhouse deep in the country. Marie's tomboyish energy and sensual playacting suggests a lesbian infatuation, although Alex appears level headed, grounded and straight.

Once they arrive, late at night, there is little opportunity for clandestine bed swopping. A big man in green overalls and work boots, with cap pulled low over his eyes, drives up to the farm in a battered truck and systematically slaughters the family.

He moves slowly and deliberately from room to room, like Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Marie manages to avoid detection, while witnessing shocking scenes of decapitation and murder. Alex is left chained and gagged in her room, half mad with fright, awaiting some future atrocity.

Marie's predicament is petrifying. Even her attempts at finding a telephone to call for help are thwarted. She manages to hide in the truck, when the killer drives off with Alex, and so the chase and the fear continues.

Where the film differs from other comin'-after-you movies, such as Jeepers Creepers, is that it never lets up. The cameras stay with Marie and the intensity of her terror is conveyed with gut-crunching authenticity by De France.

The sensation of being chased by a monster in dreams is replicated here. However fast she moves, however clever she is, this slow man with an assortment of deadly weapons appears to gain on her.

The writing (Aja and Gregory Levasseur) and direction (Aja) is lean and taut. The seriousness of their approach overcomes the merest suggestion of parody. Switchblade Romance - an unfortunate alternative title to the original Haute Tension - makes The Blair Witch Project look silly and hysterical.

Reviewed on: 24 Sep 2004
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Switchblade Romance packshot
Two girlfriends are terrorised by a serial killer in the French countryside.
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Read more Switchblade Romance reviews:

David Haviland ****1/2

Director: Alexandre Aja

Writer: Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur

Starring: Cecile De France, Maiwenn Le Besco, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun, Andrei Finti, Oana Pellea, Marco Claudiu Pascu

Year: 2003

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France


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