Who knew a French director could create such a superb slasher film, a genre almost exclusively American? This film, while heavily influenced by the other slashers, avoids most of the major clichés and cuts right to the bone.
Tension is created through the interesting use of white noise and static during confrontational sequences. This noise, enhanced by the soundtrack, generates a growing level of anticipation in the audience that mirrors the protagonist’s anxiety.
This film isn’t just tension and atmosphere, however. Director Aja isn’t afraid to lay on the blood; there are several very bloody sequences that will undoubtedly please the gorehounds out there. While there are a few (large) plot inconsistencies, these can be ignored in typical horror film fashion. What’s most important here is the build-up of tension and its almost orgiastic release in violence. If you haven’t got a taste for gore and a stomach for violence, this is not a film you want to see.
Ten years from now this film will be critiqued and analysed in the same breath as Psycho, Halloween and Dressed to Kill. There’s enough subtext and depth here for a very interesting psychoanalytic review, much like the previous films mentioned.
This little French film, along with several others from around the world, for instance, represents a small-yet-growing “slasher new wave,” a re-vitalisation of a genre now over forty years old.
The only unfortunate thing about this film is the high probability of an American remake, three or four years down the road.
While not perfect, this film is certainly worth viewing (if you’re a fan of the genre) and marks the debut of a new talent in the slasher genre, director Alexandre Aja.