AND SOON THE DARKNESS
UK, 1970, 99 minutes, Colour.
Pamela Franklin, Michele Dotrice, Sandor Eles, John Nettleton, Clare Kelly.
Directed by Robert Fuest.
And Soon The Darkness is a very good little supporting thriller, filmed in rural France, about two young nurses on a cycling holiday where one is murdered. You know that there has to be a twist, but right until the end you are not quite sure. Atmosphere and location sense are excellently captured by director Robert Fuest (later to make Dr. Phibes films and Wuthering Heights.) Pamela Franklin is good as the harassed and scared heroine and Michele Dotrice effective as her moody companion. The ordinariness of the locales and characters and frequent newspaper stories of the murders of holidaying girls makes the thriller more real and serves as a warning to be careful.
1. A satisfying thriller? Audience expectations of thrillers, conventions? How well fulfilled?
2. The atmosphere of France, the countryside, the people? Colour? locations? Music?
3. Indications from the title, the sense of menace? Darkness and death?
4. The contrast of England and France? Very English girls and the atmosphere of English girls on tour in France? The build-up of threat, danger? Audience identification with the characters? The female audience identifying with Jane and feeling with her?
5. How plausible the situation? Newspaper reports of this kind of murder? The structure ? building on the situation for audience involvement: the enjoyment of the holiday, indications of trouble, atmosphere of mystery, sense of menace and danger, confrontation? The appeal? How much momentum and suspense?
6. The film's portrait of Jane and Cathy in themselves? Their English background, the behaviour of young girls on holiday on the Continent, Cathy and her being prepared to risk things? Jane and her caution? Cathy's motivations, the inevitability of her death?
7. Jane and the contrast, her ability to cope, audience sympathy of her plight? Her discovery of the history of murders in the place? Audience anticipation and anxiety? The build-up of the danger? The atmosphere of the people and their seeming hostility?
8. The character of Paul as a possible hero, as a possible villain? As a character, doing the expected things to complicate audience reaction? The contrast with the policeman and his seeming kindness? The irony of the ambiguity?
9. The effectiveness of the terror scenes, the woods, the darkness, the house, the trailer, the discovery of the corpse, Jane's bashing of Paul, her final realisation that the policeman was the criminal? Audience identification, what happens to an audience?
10. The build-up to the ambiguity at the end and the threat from the policeman, the rescue by Paul? A satisfying ending?
11. Audience response to a danger of this kind? Deterrent and warning? A competent thriller?