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My two favorite French horror movies. High Tension is great, but Martyrs is on a whole other level, just amazingly original and continuously jaw-dropping.
"New French Extremism". Tra la la. That's a fancy label for a slasher.
Great match up. High Tension was great stuff until the ridiculous ending. Martyrs was a pure kick in the nuts....
Well, not all New French Extremism films are slasher-oriented. Martyrs isn't at all. I'm not a fan of High Tension mostly because it's a slasher flick that is pretty typical, aside from the particularly dumb twist. After one viewing there's little reason to sit through it again. Sure, Martyrs might be hard to take seriously. It's just not as boring as High Tension.
New French Extremism is broader than just slashers; it's sort of synonymous with "arthouse exploitation." Gaspar Noe, for example, has never directed anything like a slasher. Anyway, between these two... I don't love either, but Martyrs gets the edge for being more ambitious.
I'd probably like Martyrs more if it didn't have pretensions to making a Grand Philosophical Statement. High Tension is (very) flawed, but didn't suffer from the same inflated sense of purpose.