Wow. What can I say about this film.
For once I really don't know, I'm still in shock as to what happened on Thursday. And angry. Very, very angry.
This film is almost impossible to rate as it's as if it was directed by two different people. One of which is a horror auteur, riffing on the films that have come before and effectively bringing something fresh to the big screen. The other is a prick. A total and utter bawbag of a man, who manages to undo all the great work done in the first 75 minutes by putting 10 minutes of utter pish on screen that is so out of touch and tone with the rest of the film that you can't believe what you are seeing. Added to this fact that you are given one of the most non-sensical twists of all time that even M Night Shyamalan would balk at.
I'll focus on the positives first. The original French name is far more fitting - High Tension. They're not joking, there are some genuinely unnerving, tense and creepy shots in here. The "bad guy" is one of the most vile, despicable characters I have seen on screen for a long time, and was perfect. Contrary to one of the issues I had with Inside, Switchblade Romance has the courage to carry out its convictions (for the first 75 minutes) and you don't see his eyes at all. You see glimpses of his face but not all of it, making him seem less human, which is a good thing given what he's doing, but also more terrifying.
I'm not sure if I've become desensitised, especially in recent weeks, but don't believe the hype about this film being overly gory. Yes there is some gore, but a lot of the things happen off screen. And thats what makes it so scary. Aja appears to know that the true horror is in the viewers mind. And by alluding to certain things, or hearing the screams of camera the viewers mind is free to roam to its darkest corners and is ultimately more terrifying than anything that could be shown on screen. Given these subtle touches it is even more incredible to me what happens next.
The twist ending is totally uncalled for, cheats the viewer out of one of the great retributions of recent memory and contradicts everything that came before. As much as people may not like Shyamalan's twists at least they are in keeping with the rest of his film. Everything builds towards the twist and if you look back you can see it fits into the storyline, and in most cases you can watch them again seeing the story from a different perspective due to the added knowledge you have.
Watch Switchblade Romance again and I reckon you will be even more angry and dismayed with what Aja has done. All the effective work that he has done previously is blown out of the water by the monstrosity that is the last 10 minutes, plot strands fall to pieces and, most criminal of all, the effective "boogie man" suddenly becomes a caricature of himself and laughable. It also reduces one of my favourite parts of the film to nothing.
This being the fact that Marie is spot on for the first 75 minutes. Typically when watching other horror movies, look at last week's To Let for a prime example, you are screaming at the TV and balking at how ridiculous the decisions of the protagonist are. In this film I was catching up with her. Nothing typifies this more than the scene where she tidies the room and dries the sink at the start to make it look as if the room is unoccupied. This was genius in my opinion. Here we had a female character who was at the top of her game and yet was still being outdone by this mass murdering maniac. It was terrifying. And again, to be cheated out of this by the "twist" ending hurt all the more.
I honestly don't think I have ever been more disappointed by the ending of a film in my life. There have been worse films, but given what has come before it was almost too much to bear on Thursday night.
If you watch this film please do me favour, turn it off after 75 minutes and you will be treated to a gem of a horror movie, and one of the most effective slasher movies in the past 10 years. If you don't, you may find yourself watching the most ridiculous horror film of the decade that will disappoint as much as it befuddles you.