Thursday, April 1, 2010

Diabolique. A-

Henri-Georges Clouzot's 'Diabolique' leaves an indelible impression on the viewer, mostly because of a truly grim shocker at the end. The problem for me is that I predicted the twist about two thirds through the movie and turned out to be right. Does that mean the surprise is obvious? Not at all-though I can't say for sure because I haven't discussed the movie with anyone. I think what it comes down to is that I got lucky with my prediction. When the movie ends a message appears on the screen telling the audience to keep the secrets of the story in concealment. This is a movie where the twist cannot be revealed not because it's important to the rest of the story but because it serves as a stunner that's meant to stick with you, the same way the surprise in 'Psycho' did. 'Diabolique' is a first rate work of suspense that Hitchcock, according to his interview with Trancois Truffaut, was close to buying the rights for. Instead Clouzot got it, which doesn't bother me in the least because he's an amazing filmmaker and he doesn't waste the opportunity in the least (I would still have loved to see what Hitchcock would have done with it, though). The story is a devious one: two women despise the same man and plot to murder him. At first things go smoothly but then, as can only be expected, things go wrong as the body, which they planted in a swimming pool, disappears. I loved the way the movie managed to create suspense in the most simple and seemingly innocent situations. The scene where they take the trunk to the car stood out to me as one of the film's finest. 'Diabolique' is an outstanding work of horror and suspense and the ending-even though I saw it coming-is almost as memorable as 'Psycho's' finale. And if 'Psycho' made you afraid of showers, this movie could make you fear bathtubs.

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