I’m sure I’ve mentioned Haute Tension before. It’s one of the greatest slasher movies I’ve ever seen. If not for a highly questionable ending, it might just be the most perfect horror film ever. It’s a French slasher that tells the tale of a girl who goes home for the holidays with her friend only to witness the massacre of the girl’s entire family. The girl is kidnapped by the killer and Marie (the heroine) spends the rest of the movie trying to find someway to release her friend and not get caught and killed by the sick bastard. This little summary does the movie absolutely NO justice, because the way it is pulled off is suspenseful, frightening, and relentless.
I’d read online about the similarities to Dean Koontz’s book Intensity. I’ve never been a fan of Koontz’s and to be completely honest, I’ve never read even one of his books. But this weekend I was flipping through the free movies on my On Demand service and saw a tv movie version of Intensity. So I rented it.
The movie itself was a run-of-the-mill thriller. Incredibly stupid at times, and sort of almost suspenseful at others. Not very good. The acting was wooden, the writing was horrible, and the directing was heavy-handed. But I’ve got to say, the first half of the movie is . . . exactly like Haute Tension. Not as well done, granted. Where Haute Tension left you with an ache in the pit of your gut, Intensity left you with a bland, “who cares?” sort of feeling. But the basic plot was all there, plain as day.
The girl invites her friend to spend the weekend with her. There’s a hint of lesbianism there. The family is massacred. The friend is taken prisoner by the killer. The main girl goes undiscovered and hides in the killer’s vehicle. The killer stops at a gas station and massacres everyone as the girl hides in the back of the store. It is absolutely crazy how identical the set up is. Of course, from there, Haute Tension goes off on it’s regretable tangent. Intensity fairs no better, with a second half that is laughable and aggravating all at the same time. Two entirely different endings to the exact same set up.
Were the makers of Haute Tension influenced by Koontz’s book? If you’ve seen both movies, there can be only one answer. I’ve searched the internet for any information on a lawsuit from Koontz, but I can’t find anything. As much as I love Haute Tension, it definitely appears to have plagarized the first half of Koontz’s book.
Check it out for yourself. If nothing else, it’s a great study on what different directors and writers can do with the same source material.