Haute Tension

Director: Alexandre Aja
Screenwriters: Alexandre Aja, Grégory Levasseur

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


Marie is like a rubber band—taut under her tight white T-shirt, a restless traveler and longing companion to dreamy and oblivious Alex. Two plucky college girls, they're on the road to Alex's parent's country home, a converted barn nestled so snugly amongst fields of corn that there will be nothing to distract them from a weekend of study. Or will there? That night all but Marie are resting soundly when a derelict in a delivery truck begins insistently ringing and forces his way in—to shed blood. What follows is a brutally gory, beautiful suspense thriller—saturated in crimson hues and decapitation. Only at the end do you learn who wins the seductive stalking match between murderer and murdered, heroine and would-be victim.

Alexandre Aja has crafted a masterful suspense story that elevates the liturgy of French horror—it's more than un petit peu sexy—to a whole new titillating level. At the center of this chiaroscuro roadside nightmare stand commanding and nuanced performances by Maiwenn le Besco and Cécile de France. Philippe Nahon as the blood-lusting creep, borrowed from the films of Gaspar Noé, seals the deal.

Though you may want to look away from the gruesome scene, fear not. The haute tension reveals a twisted climax.

— Larin Sullivan

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]