Finishing up this edition of April Showers, I checked out another offering available on Shudder, Robert Fuest's 1970 thriller And Soon the Darkness.
Jane (Pamela Franklin) desperately searches for her friend Cathy (Michele Dotrice) after she goes missing during their cycling trip across France.
In the early seventies, the UK was putting out a lot of films with similar subject matter (a lot of them starring Susan George incidentally) and And Soon the Darkness may be the most pure in its intentions. I found this extremely stripped down affair that lets Ian Wilson's gorgeous cinematography and the mounting unease of the situation do most of the heavy lifting to be really solid. While it can be said that the last act was largely chase scenes and posturing, there was a great deal of legitimate dread in this piece.
I was immediately struck by how times have changed in the last few decades, as the naïve innocence of these two ladies casually cycling across Europe was both admirable and appalling. What this movie did really well was put you in Jane's shoes. Fuest's choice not to subtitle the locals and put you in the same predicament as she struggled to find help was an inspired one. As a person whose grade school French only let me pick out every fourth or fifth word, I totally got how frustrating that would be. Man, how the hell do people travel by themselves these days?
|Pamela Franklin (left) & Michele Dotrice in And Soon the Darkness.|
This film had some pretty substantial pedigree behind it. Fruest went on to direct the classic The Abominable Dr. Phibes among others and writer Terry Nation was well known to me as a prolific writer on the Dr. Who of my childhood years. Franklin was no stranger to the genre, as she began her career playing Flora in the 1961 classic The Innocents. Both her and Michele Dotrice had remarkable screen presence and immediately pulled me in.
And Soon the Darkness' worst case scenario travelogue resonated because of how plausible it all was. In my research, I discovered there was an inevitable remake made in 2010 starring Amber Heard. I looked it up on YouTube and was immediately annoyed after fifteen seconds of it. I respond more to the creeping dread of Fuest and his peers than I do the flashy one-upmanship of their successors. Maybe I'm growing up.
Anyway, this has been April Showers IV. Hope you enjoyed it, and perhaps discovered a title or two along the way. See you next week.
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