A movie that has sat on my shelf for years but remembered watched the 100 Scariest Movie Moments on Bravo and this film was discussed. I am sure that list is still available on youtube in some capacity but I don’t want to link it in fear of it being taken down so please look it up! Anywho, this movie was on the countdown, actually spoiled the ending (not smart) but the build up is what makes Diabolique worth watching.
Let’s talk about the black and white 1955 French film, (Les) Diabolique(s).
First off, I need to get my hands on the novel this film was based off: She Who Was No More aka Celle qui n’etait Plus) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The film adaptation is apparently similar yet different: the film is about two women who conspire to kill one woman’s husband. Said husband is abusive, he runs said school and just overall not a good man. His name is Michel Delassalle and his wife is Christina (blonde). The third member of this party is Nicole Horner (brunette), a teacher at the same school and it was interesting to watch the evolution of Nicole and Christina’s relationship.
Both women continue their lives after said murder but his body goes missing. Thus paranoia and secrecy creeping in. Especially for Nicole, who is basically his mistress as well.
The film highlights how dark or tense the environment is constantly. We bounce from scene to scene and yet everything just seems tense. Our introduction to the characters, the children, even the side characters who are there, it seems very ominous. Unsafe.
The lighting contributes to that feeling as well. It’s very prominent and strong towards the end of the film which looking back was completely spoiled. Again, thanks Bravo! But it’s quite clear Nicole is the more frightened after conspiring and following through. She’s living alone, she’s paranoid, and spoiler alert, she was really used as a pawn for what the real conspiracy was happening in the background. It kinda reminds me of how Don’t Look Now is, where there’s a central plot but on the outskirts, a more important plot is happening that we don’t immediately see. But back to the ending sequence, Nicole is surrounded in darkness, she seems to feel safer in the darkness but once light is emerging from a room or she’s in that light, she’s so frightened. It also should be thrown in that she suffers from a weak heart. Just keep that in mind as well.
I liked the narrative/story arc, the acting is great and convincing. I like the overall tone of the film.
Les Diabolique(s) is directed and produced by Henri-Georges Clouzot, co-written by Jérôme Géronimi and stars Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse and Charles Vanel. It gets a 4 out of 5 from me. Well worth a watch! There is also a remake but I cannot speak on it since I haven’t seen it.