Euro-Horror Project: And Soon the Darkness

(Robert Fuest, 1970) Hands down one of Fuest’s best pictures (and an unsung gem of a 70s chiller), And Soon the Darkness relies on evocative minimalism and clean, uncluttered shots to make both daylight and the wide-open French countryside sinister. When two female tourists get separated near a menacing little town, the breathing space generated by Fuest and DP Ian Wilson is cloying rather than comforting — it’s almost agoraphobic by design. There’s too much open field and too much dead air between Jane (Pamela Franklin) and her missing friend (Michele Dotrice), and the only hiding places to shelter in are bushes that probably conceal perverts or ramshackle cafes that attract brutes. The situation is complicated by a too-eager-to-help hep cat (Sandor Elès) who trails the girls on his moped, then force-teams himself with Jane when she finds herself alone on the deserted route. The way Jane is ordered around by men or bossy elders is part of the day’s horror — And Soon the Darkness is a meditation on the dangers of being young and female in an objectifying world, and the tension mounts with every leer or warning, as does Jane’s exasperation. The movie benefits from capable performances and realistic dialogue, but the real star is the production design and how well it lends itself — even and especially in broad daylight — to our growing sense of dread. – Ranylt Richildis

What’s the Euro-Horror Project?


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