And Soon the Darkness (1970)
and soon the darkness | robert fuest | brian clemens | terry nation | pamela franklin | michele dotrice | Sandor eles | mystery | thriller | united kingdom | vacation | john nettleton | clare kelly | hana maria pravda | john franklyn | claude bertrand | jean carmet
Film: And Soon the Darkness
Director: Robert Fuest
Writer: Brian Clemens and Terry Nation
Starring: Pamela Franklin, Michele Dotrice and Sandor Elès
I have an interesting history with this movie. My mom randomly recommended it to me right after college. I didn’t know anything about it but decided to check it out as I was in the process of expanding into films I had never seen before. I’m now given it a second watch as I’m going to be guesting on Chronicle, which is a podcast over on the TPUTS Collective. The synopsis here is two young English women go on a cycling tour of the French countryside. When one of them goes missing, the other searches for her. But who can she trust?
Much as the synopsis states, our two women are Jane (Pamela Franklin) and Cathy (Michele Dotrice). They come to a little outdoor café where Cathy takes a picture of a man who at once puts his sunglasses on. She believes him to be cute, while the other ignores it. Jane seems the mastermind of this excursion and wants to push on, while her Cathy wants to be around people, have fun and not so much worried about how far they get. This is an interesting look at both of their characters as they get back on the road.
This difference causes a problem when Cathy decides to pull off the road into a little wooded area to rest. Jane joins her for a bit, but when she wants to push forward, an argument ensues. In the end, it is decided that Cathy will stay put until she’s ready to go and Jane goes on ahead without her.
She goes a bit down the road and stops at the first café she finds to wait. She also has an interesting interaction with the woman who runs this place, Madame Lassal (Hana Maria Pravda) and Lassal (Claude Bertrand). Jane learns that this stretch of road is ‘bad’. Jane goes back the way they came to make up. Reaching the wooded area, there is no sign of her friend aside from her camera. Showing up soon after is the man they saw at the café earlier. We learn his name is Paul Salmon (Sandor Elès).
They investigate what happened to Cathy. She goes to local businesses and houses searching for her or clues as to what happened to her, but there aren’t many. There is a history here that makes it difficult and they don’t seem forthcoming to give information to outsiders either.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and where I’ll start is that this is an excellent thriller. The mood is set by the environment, being out in the middle of nowhere. The landscape is desolate and it affects the mood. It feels like life is difficult here. With that set up, we have these two young women who are outsiders. They don’t speak the language and that adds another layer to everything. I like that the DVD I have doesn’t have subtitles. It frustrated me the first time I saw this, but now I can understand that we are like our characters in not understanding those around them.
Where I’ll shift next would be how this is shot. We get extreme long shots of someone working in a field, but you get the feeling they wouldn’t help if you needed it. Bringing back up that Jane and Cathy are outsiders You don’t know who to trust and it does feel that any of them could be involved. There is a murder that we learn about that happened in the area a few years ago. It is creepy that she was also cycling through France, but she did it alone. There is something here that you can’t trust these people and that they could be involved in a cover-up. That adds tension for the climax.
That is about the extent of the story that I needed to flesh out, so next will be the acting. I like our two leads here. Franklin is an actor I recognized and it turns out she was the little girl from The Innocents. I thought she was good here trying to find her friend. I feel bad for her when she can’t understand those around her and that would be scary. Her portrayal was good. Dotrice was solid in her role as well. From here are the people that we don’t know if we can trust or not. Elès appears as the prime suspect. He does thing that alleviate that and then makes you question him. I like that for building tension. Aside from that, John Nettleton, Clare Kelly, Pravada, Franklyn, Bertrand and Jean Carmet are all good in rounding out the cast. Again, we don’t know who you can trust or not.
Then to finish this out, I’ve already said that we get some good cinematography here. Not only does it add tension, but I feel that it looks good. We don’t get a lot in the way of effects. It isn’t that type of movie that needs though. What we get look fine. Then other than that, the soundtrack fit for what was needed. Not a great score or one that I would come back to, but I thought it fit for what the movie needed.
So then in conclusion here, this is one that I came in blind originally and it stuck with me. I’m glad I could finally give it a second viewing. We have a story that is based in realism. This could happen to anyone of us. Heck, I’ve been to Spain before, by myself and I barely know Spanish. Having your friend disappear and not being able to trust those around you is scary. I like that the DVD I have doesn’t have subtitles for the French being spoken in the movie, so we are as lost as the characters. The acting is good. This is shot beautifully and the soundtrack works for what was needed. I’d say that this is an above average movie, just missing out on being good for me.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10