Gort vs spoilers: we review Switchblade Romance

Commander's log, Stardate 30112012.2:|

Spoilers, the final frontier. I was profoundly mocked this week on declaring I was to review French slasher horror Switchblade Romance, as Gort maintained such a thing was impossible.

Indeed, it is a great task to review a film that hinges so much on its ending properly without giving away the twist. Will I be successful? Are spoilers as big a deal as everyone makes out? We shall see...

Personally, I'm not sure why everyone gets so het up about spoilers. If a film is really any good, its appeal should rely on more than one big plot point. I have watched films such as Joss Whedon's brilliant horror pastiche The Cabin In The Woods - surely the highest-budget episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer ever filmed, and it didn't even feature Buffy - when I have known the twist in advance and still been able to appreciate and enjoy the film regardless. There are certain franchises, shows and books that I live in terror of having spoiled, but all of those are ongoing series that I have already become invested in. If you're going cold into a stand-alone movie, does it matter?

Perhaps the issue is one of re-evaluation. A good plot twist turns everything that has happened previously in the film on its head - heroes become villains, friends become enemies and kindness becomes cruelty. Watching the film again then lets you see all the events with fresh eyes, carefully snooping for holes in the plot. Coming into a film cold, then rewatching, essentially gives you two movies to enjoy. Switchblade Romance is one such movie.

The film, known as Haute Tension in France, opens with two young women, Cecile de France and Maiwenn le Besco, the Diva in The Fifth Element, on a road trip to stay with le Besco's family. Along the way, they discuss de France's lack of love life, a line of inquiry she deflects.

When they arrive, after de France is introduced to le Besco's family, de France nips outside for a quick fag. She catches sight of le Besco undressing through a window and her keen interest explains her reticence to discuss cute boys. She heads back upstairs to enjoy a bit of... *ahem*... private time, which is when things really kick off downstairs... Not like that...

We're introduced to a stereotypically creepy, rather grubby, dude, who is masturbating with the mouth of a woman's severed head. This is exactly the kind of thing Alexandre Aja specialises in. His gruesome direction managed to make Piranha 3D more than just an excuse to get Kelly Brook naked (as if you need an excuse) and it makes "The Killer" here an instantly iconic slasher-film villain.

The Killer proceeds to turn up at le Besco's house, knock on the door and brutally murder her father when he answers. The rest of the film focuses on de France's attempts to rescue her secret crush from the sadistic maniac. While lesbianism is often treated immaturely in horror particularly, de France's sexuality makes her rescue attempts plausible and gives her character depth.

Renowned curmudgeon and apparent hater of movies, Roger Ebert, infamously claimed there were plot holes you could drive a truck through in the film. There aren't and we have a tendency to fling such miserablists our of airlocks where I come from. If you truly understand what happens at the end, then you realise you can't quite pick out any particular disparities in the plot and the twist is foreshadowed, but it does stretch your suspension of disbelief a little too far. Worse, it comes at a moment when you cannot see any other way out for the characters, meaning it seems like a cheat when you're dying to see where the plot would have gone if it had carried on in the direction it was heading.

Thankfully, Aja pulls the film back to end on an delightfully dark and chilling coda, and the journey makes it worthwhile to withhold too much scepticism of the plot. So, there you go, spoiler-free review.  Suck on that, robo-loser.