Two English girls take a cycling holiday in France. After an argument they become separated on an infamous stretch of road, where a mad killer abducts and kills Cathy. Jane meanwhile, is left isolated, frightened and doesn't know who to trust.
Pamela Franklin ... Jane
Michele Dotrice ... Cathy
Sandor Elès ... Paul
John Nettleton ... Gendarme
Clare Kelly ... Schoolmistress
Hana Maria Pravda ... Madame Lassal (as Hana-Maria Pravda)
John Franklyn ... Old Man
Claude Bertrand ... Lassal
Jean Carmet ... Renier
I remember seeing this on late night television years ago, and had very fond memories of it. Recently i caught up with it on dvd, and found that my memory had not let me down. Every aspect of this film demonstrates film making talent of the very highest order. The script is superb, keeping you guessing right up to the end. The acting of the leads is faultless, but the icing on the cake is the amazing direction by Fuest. He manages to turn the open, sunny, French countryside into a nightmare landscape. Gradually cranking up the tension, alienation, and paranoia with the skill of a master. He really should have been a massively successful director. Pure craftsmanship, with a very creepy edge.
Hey now, this isn't some great hidden gem that you absolutely MUST see, but it is a decent little thriller and worth seeing at least once. Two English girls are bicycling through rural France and encounter someone that seems to be following them. When the girls separate after a spat, of course you know that no good can come of that, and you'd be right. One girl reconsiders and goes looking for the first one but she's nowhere to be found. There's something about a murder of a young girl earlier on the particular road that they've chosen, but since the viewer is treated to some scenes in which nothing but French is spoken and there's NO subtitles, you have to wonder what exactly you missed and what exactly the makers of the film were THINKING when they did that. There are some red herrings thrown out there as to who exactly might be the killer, but to this film's credit the REAL killer is a total surprise. All in all this is fairly tame but it is a decent thriller and worthwhile to see at least once.
"And Soon the Darkness" – which takes entirely place during the daytime – is a fairly creepy but sadly neglected 70's Brit-chiller directed by Robert Fuest, who would later focus on horror movies that have slightly more extravagant story lines, like "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" and "The Devil's Rain". This movie exclusively revolves on moody atmosphere and eerie setting, as there are no nasty bits or gratuitous sleaze. The film starts out rather slow but gradually gets tenser, and particularly the last half hour is terrific and nail-biting. Two young British nurses spend their holiday bicycling through rural France, unaware that another tourist girl was brutally slain in the same region two years earlier and unaware that they're being targeted by the same fiendish rape-killer who's still at large in the area. Following a banal quarrel, Jane becomes separated from her friend Cathy. The latter then mysteriously vanishes and during the search for her friend, Jane only encounters suspiciously behaving locals. Robert Fuest maintains a continuously high tension-level using only very basic tricks, most notably the inability to communicate. Jane doesn't speak French and therefore she cannot understand the warnings of people or explain what happened to her friend. There aren't any subtitles for the French dialogs, so even the viewers are unaware of what's going on most of the time in case they don't speak the language. Pamela Franklin's acting performance is very convincing and the music as well as the photography is extremely uncanny. Definitely on of the most efficient women-in-peril horror/thrillers of the early 70's.