A young French student, Marie, spends time with her best friend Alex's family at their country house. The first night a violent killer slaughters the family and takes Alex hostage. Marie must use all her wits and courage to rescue her friend and stop this maniac from killing again.
HAUTE TENSION was picked up and released by independent distributor Lionsgate Entertainment following a successful screening at the Midnight Madness section of the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival.
It was released in the United States as HIGH TENSION, and as SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE in the UK.
HIGH TENSION is generally regarded as kick-starting a new wave of super-graphic French horror films, which continued with such acclaimed films as FRONTIER(S), ILS, INSIDE and MARTYRS.
Almost as soon as it was released several horror critics and fans noted a distinct similarity between Aja's film and Dean Koontz's 1995 novel INTENSITY.
HAUTE TENSION appeared to follow a significant portion of the novel up until a point. Many critics have surmised that HAUTE TENSION's the outrageous and controversial ending may have been a ploy by the film-makers to distance themselves further from Koontz's work. Although the offical line is that executive producer Luc Besson demanded a twist ending of the film, which was more marketable at the time.
When asked about the similarity between his film and the Koontz novel Aja told Staci Layne Wilson: " I know Intensity, I know Dean Koontz, and I am a big fan of his work."