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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Drama > Killer > High Tension (2003) + Hard Candy (2005/Lionsgate Blu-Rays)

High Tension (2003) + Hard Candy (2005/Lionsgate Blu-Rays)

Picture: (B-/C+)    Sound: (B-/C)    Extras: B-     Films: (B-/C-)

Here we have two horror films from Lionsgate that are new to Blu-Ray.  We will first be taking a look at the film High Tension from director Alexandre Aja, who most recently helmed the film Piranha 3D.  The story follows a girl visiting her family with a school friend in tow. Not long at the house, they are soon pursued by a killer who viciously eliminates the girl's family.  The killer's identity is secluded from the audience throughout the film, until the full scope of the events is allowed to gel.  It is then that we are able to witness the film with a new set of eyes.

This is a fairly clever movie, and was instrumental in the recent return of the down and dirty horror film.  It also landed Aja on the map, and secured his seat as director of the surprisingly excellent Hills Have Eyes remake.  Unfortunately, his two films since then, Mirrors and Piranha 3D have been remakes of other films as well.  This seems to be slowly dulling his sensibilities, and I hope to see him return to original works in the near future.

The film Hard Candy is also a thriller with some twists, but unfortunately it is not as intriguing or as thoughtful as High Tension.  It is directed by David Slade and stars Ellen Page prior to her mainstream break in Juno, a film that, although much lighter in tone, also finds her in an odd pairing with an older man.  Here she turns to the internet to sniff out a 30-something photographer who also happens to be a pedophile.  Posing as an innocent girl out to hook up with him, they chat for a while before she suggests that they meet up.  He is happy to oblige her, but soon finds himself drugged, bound and at her mercy as she seeks to avenge the death of another young girl that he was involved in.

Although not without surprises, the film is still too straightforward and lacks the energy it needs to work.  This is the same problem that David Slade encountered again with his adaptation of 30 Days of Night - the film was simply too clean and boring when the source material allows for so much more exploration.

Extra content includes full length commentary tracks with the writers and directors of each film, as well as some interesting behind the scenes featurettes.

The video is presented in 1080P high definition resolution with a 2.35:1 scope aspect ratio for both titles.  Better use of lighting and framing, as well as a more interesting use of palette on High Tension cause it to rate slightly higher.  The quality of the image is about the same for both films, and looks quite good on these transfers.

There are 5.1 DTS-HD sound mixes for both films. High Tension also includes the original French dialogue track in a 7.1 mix, also in the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless format. Overall sound quality is good with nice use of surround.

High Tension is a love letter to fans of films such as Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it ably finds what works best about those movies and blends their unique flavors quite well.  Hard Candy is a little more difficult to recommend, but it has certainly won over many fans these past few years.  There are good performances in it, and it is one of the few movies out there that is willing to discuss the sensitive topic of internet predators. For fans of thrillers, you could do worse than this film.

  David Milchick


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