Sunday, 16 March 2008

And Soon the Darkness (1970)

And Soon the Darkness is a well-crafted and very tense British horror thriller. Director Robert Fuest is probably best-known for the two Dr Phibes movies with Vincent Price, while co-writer Brian Clemens was responsible for countless fine British TV and movie scripts. Two English nurses, Cathy and Jane, are on a cycling holiday in France. They quarrel, and Jane rides off leaving Cathy behind. When she goes back to find her friend, she has disappeared, and Jane notices that a young man who was following them earlier is now following her. She becomes really worried when she reaches a nearby village, and hears people talking about a murder. With her rudimentary command of French she can’t be entirely sure what they’re saying, but it’s enough to alarm her, and she has great difficulty locating the local gendarme, which alarms her still further. This movie is a great example of the principle that you don’t need big stars and huge budgets to make entertaining movies, and you don’t need buckets of gore to make a terrifying movie. And Soon the Darkness relies entirely on atmosphere and on suspense, and it works superbly. Jane’s sense of helplessness and isolation, alone in a foreign country and unable to make herself understood clearly (this is emphasised by having all the supporting characters speaking French without any sub-titles, so the viewer feels Jane’s frustration at her inability to communicate effectively) is almost unbearable. There’s nothing fancy about this movie, and there’s nothing startling about the plot. It’s simply done very very well. A highly effective little horror thriller.

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