Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|And Soon the Darkness|
Actors: Pamela Franklin, Michele Dotrice, Sandor Elès, John Nettleton, Clare Kelly
Director: Robert Fuest
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
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A superb "Film Blanc"
Paul Kesler | Bridgeport, PA United States | 01/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""And Soon the Darkness" is one of those odd little films that occasionally surfaces in some of the better reference books on horror and suspense, but remains unknown to the casual fan. This is unfortunate, because "Darkness" is something almost unique in the suspense genre: a film taking place almost completely in daylight, yet conveying a sense of encroaching doom that rivals some of the best films in the field. The film is almost plotless. Two nurses go on a biking excursion through the French countryside to see "the real France." But they have a falling out, and after their rift one of them (played by Michelle Dotrice) is murdered by an unseen (off-screen) assailant. The other girl, Pamela Franklin, struggles on, but soon a lone detective, claiming to be from the police, joins her, and they "collaborate" in a search for the missing girl.It isn't long before "Jane" (Pamela) grows suspicious of the detective, and starts to believe he's the killer. Once this suspicion dawns, we witness her sporadic attempts to get to the bottom of things. Her meetings with the local gendarme, a café owner, a schoolteacher, and a blind war veteran, uncover nothing ---- though their collective "testimony" only adds to her unease. Eventually, of course, we discover the real killer, who, though constantly prowling the daylight, almost succeeds in delivering "darkness" to his second victim in a row.To repeat ---- the remarkable thing about the film is how the constant scanning of open, sun-drenched fields and barren roads evokes an atmosphere of dread. I'm hard-pressed to name another film which accomplishes its aims by similar means ---- almost all the clichés of cobwebs, shadowy stairways, and rain-soaked streets are missing here. Only toward the end, when Franklin tries to hide from the detective in a ramshackle hut, do we get a recourse to the more conventional methods of "noir" ---- yet, precisely because it comes so late in the day (both literally and figuratively), it's that much more unnerving.Pamela Franklin shows once again that she is one of the most underrated actresses of her day. Completely unglamourized, dressed simply in a white shirt and tan shorts, she shows little of the beautiful gamin she played in "Sinful Davey" (1968) or the lusciously sexy flapper of "Ace Eli and Roger of the Skies" (1973). This allows her more scope for nuances of expression, while simultaneously bringing her more firmly into the "girl next door" camp.As a side note, it's interesting to compare the music score to that of the much-later "Silence of the Lambs." Though worlds apart in other respects, the leitmotif of descending notes that runs through "Darkness" clearly anticipates passages in "Lambs." Only the tawdry jazz accompanying the opening and closing credits mars what is otherwise an effectively eerie score.Anchor Bay's DVD edition serves the film equivocally. While nothing spectacular video-wise, it's a vast improvement over VHS versions, and its audio track is better still, conveying nice clarity in both dialogue and music. The full-length commentary, however, is disappointing. Not only do Robert Fuest (director) and Brian Clemens (screenwriter) say almost nothing about Franklin (calling her at one point "unknowable"), they spend as much time discussing their parts in the "Avengers" TV series as they do the film itself. Worse, their comments are rarely screen-specific --- Fuest and Clemens take the roles of "essayists," talking abstractedly about their past careers and some of the more marginal aspects of film production. A scene-by-scene discussion would have been more effective.Whatever its flaws, this disc is a fine addition to the suspense genre, and I would highly recommend it to those who want to see what a thriller can accomplish with a minimum of means. It embodies what to my mind is almost a new subgenre, which might tentatively be called "Film Blanc.""
Excellent low key thriller
Paul Kesler | 05/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two British girls riding the French countryside on bicycles. A mad killer loose. It seems the formula for a sleazy thriller, but luckily this is not that sort of movie. This is an intelligent, moody, wonderful thriller full of unexpected touches. I love the way movie builds up the tension and keeps you guessing until the very end. I also love how the movie builds suspense upon the British girls (and our own) lack of knowledge of the French language. This makes all characters seem suspicious. The DVD transfer is excellent and the audio commentary is interesting. All in all, a must buy."
Long forgotten but a great thriller
Richard J. Ranieri | garden city, ny USA | 02/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I also saw this movie back in 1972-1973? on tv in New York and was riveted to the screen for the entire movie. Great buildup, acting, scenery and directing. All come together for a terrific ending! Came across it last year by accident and saw it was available on DVD. Have enjoyed watching it many times again."
Richard J. Ranieri | 07/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally available on dvd fom Anchor Bay.This is a fantastic transfer of one of my favourite thrillers.I first saw this on tv back in about 1974 and it made a huge impression on me then.This is a minimal,low key thriller that's methodically paced throughout while maintaining a high level of tension all the way to the very end.Director Robert Fuest does a marvellous job utilising the French countryside to superbly menacing effect.