nd Soon the Darkness begins in glorious style with two girls cycling along a remote tree lined country road smack in the middle of nowhere, well rural France to be precise.
English nurses Cathy (Dotrice) and Jane (Franklin) bike on through until making a stop for refreshments where they become something of an attraction for the local boys. They plan their route here with Cathy noticing a handsome and enigmatic man alone, seemingly shy at that, he is strangely focused on the two.
Paul, played by Hungarian actor Sandor Eles is a Vespa riding 60s mod like dude who looks remarkably like The Verve's Richard Ashcroft in a sharp suit. He is pivotal to the stories structure and graces every scene with his awkward accent and questionable intentions.
Our girls head off and are passed by the Vespa on the road ahead. They then see the stranger further on as they pass him, a nice close up shows him in an ominous light. 70s you got it right here.
Cathy is on a quest to belittle the idea of their trip, they argue, and Jane annoyed, moves on in clear sunshine, her friend left to lay out under the clear blue sky off the road.
All is not well however and the atmosphere builds as she is watched from the bushes. After feeling uneasy she hears rustling in the woods and realises her underwear has been removed as it hung on a branch left out to dry off.
A car flashes by and the girl is at once alone in this green silent space, in trouble clearly, an extreme close up evoking Italian thrillers adding a touch of giallo British style.
Meanwhile the other girl has stopped at a small café some way ahead. She glances back at the unforgiving and barren landscape as the mood takes over amidst morbid countryside with un-subtitled banter.
From here on in the film takes on the form of a mystery with numerous red herrings, including a group of characters that flit in an out effectively.
An old woman fetches Jane a drink and is seen to be nervous, this the first assumption that the inhabitants are still nervous of a crime committed around a year ago. A similar tourist had been assualted and murdered here "terrible business", a clue earlier with a shadow shading the tombstone of a deceased young girl indicates the killer?
Cycling back after meeting a primitive lingo bleating hubby at the café, she finds nothing, ten speed and Cathy vanished. The sound of a scooters engine has Ashcroft appear, friendly but slightly untrustworthy with an interest in her disappearance.
Interested in her whereabouts he presents Jane a camera film found at the scene, they take off together prior to a shot of underwear lying in the dirt,
tire marks close by leaving in-prints.
The girl soon becomes wary of his motives and flees meeting some macabre characters on route to the truth, including an edgy schoolmistress who offers a lift with a knowledge of the past crime that rocked the community.
We've already seen the dungaree clad bloke at the café berating his wife who served the drink. His gallic hogwash seemed all too aggressive.
And we are introduced the identity of the strange sickle waving figure out in the fields, an old war hero who resides in a tin can shack complete with junk that Ed Gein would be proud of, and then there's Paul with his curious interest and sheepish attitude.
Initially the only decent individual is the moustachioned Gendarme played by John Nettleton who on his Triumph bike in helmet and biggles goggles looks like Inspector Clouseau's brother in a comedic version of Great Escape.
This lot grace the frames of this low budget gem, laden with enough creepy dread to be a memorable summary of French in-hospitality especially if seen at the right time in a youngsters viewing days.
Jane is tracked by Paul to Gendarmes residence who has gone walkies himself of late, she is chased into a wonderfully decrepid caravan site, disused and abandoned mobile homes litter the area as he yells out.
Hiding in a crooked cupboard inside one of the rusted vehicles she listens to him plead that he has found her friends cycle whilst In the blacked out refuge of the closet the body of Cathy slumps.
The Gendarme' who has been nosing around in these final stages could prove her saviour as Paul closes in.
Rain spitting to a pelt on a caravan roof follows the final twist, finally clouding over the hazy sunshine seen though-out the film.
"And soon the darkness"!
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By: Nik Allen
The film is most excellent in one vital area, atmosphere and suspense British style, the wit that permeated films such as "Theatre Of Blood" or the psychedelic off centre pathos of "Straight on till Morning" are absent here.
This is pure Hitchcock territory underplayed to lethargy at times but small, effective and lovable it can still pack a punch.
Directed by Robert Fuest the films use of spacious landscapes was simply as effective as anything that relied on such agoraphobia.
Hoopers stateside masterpiece "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is one and Fulci's "Non se Sevizia un Paperino" is another, made shortly after in this in '72.
Both these films are disorientating enough to allow nightmares to seep into our deep rooted fears, they thrive in these wide open environments and hail possibly from the same sub genre as "And Soon".
Some great franco locations add authentic tones to the points raised above, meadows and open roads littered with occasional stop offs make up its rural plateau, the great scenes in the banged out caravan site were filmed in Hertfordshire
The cast give it all they've got, Dotrice shines with enough British sexuality and one hoped for more prominent screen time, Eles scoots around with ace face shades and vespa wearing a pin stripe suit that would be Paul Smiths autumn collection this year and Pamela Franklyn exhudes a knowing survivalist feminism complete with black bobbed hair and by the book intentions.
She steals the film as it goes, offering limited conversation on set but the well trodden "does my bum look big in this" doubts with regards to purple corduroy shorts.
Viewing these small films in perspective we find the hidden joy of watching low budget naivety wrapped up in assurance and self belief, apparently the days shooting were never to be seen until crew had returned to studio back home. This surely is one factor that can be applauded, they had something special but hadn't realised, neither had we as in present day the film still seems remarkably fresh.
Strangely watchable it leaves you with a feeling that sums up the thriller genre ebbing and flowing from his fair isle during the early 70s.
No one doubts the power of modern horror cinema and its variations on what we experience as voyeur but with the sound of popcorn crunching teens from the post Scream generation can keep their thrills spills and cash sound tills, I'll take the real thing.
These efforts seem to confirm simplicity as a rigid starting point for tension, unease, even educational moviemaking. Limited scripts for one need be revived to re-enforce whats been lacking in the horror genre and this anglo depiction of desolation in terror and paranoia backs this up.
Not only that but where would we now find such manifestations of revitalised fashions, made virtually at the turn of the decade it nods to the witnessed emergence back home of what the 60s meant to be Brtitish, "hey swinging LANDRON" barks Cathy as the two cycle into welcome civilisation, a seemingly insignificant French town.
And Soon the Darkness is a lotta fun, a twisted yarn that offers not only a copper who looks like Sellers after twenty pints but also the opportunity to imagine listening to Sandor Eles Hungarian karaoke version of "The Drugs Don't Work" whilst auditioning for Quadrophenia.
It's these qualities and application of basic film making that make this anglo homage to rural terror so timeless.
The film strangely mirrors events in France in the 70s, girls began to disappear for real in the countryside areas outside of Auxerre.
Bodies were found raped and strangled with the identity of the offender concealed in a cover up involving the Gendarmerie and social services.
Some of the victims were believed to be English.
Director Robert Fuest was always apprehensive about the working and confirmed title of the film. He was also responsible for the Vincent Price vehicle "The Abominable Dr Phibes"
Brian Clemens who produced and co wrote the screenplay was responsible also for the highly successful and rather bloody good series "Thriller".
know some And Soon the Darkness trivia that we could add? [Please
send it in]
I don't know locations but thought you might like to know that on the A11 just north of Thetford in Norfolk (England) the road and general terrain look exactly like that of the film.If it isn't the films location then the resemblence is uncanny. [Thanks to kevin]
Can you help? Do you know any of the filming locations used for And Soon the Darkness? [Please send them in]
|Trailer, Commentary, Notes|
Laurie Jonsons music was outstanding, his range of incidental themes are suitably eerie and have that unmistakeable feel.
Responsible for many scores including "The New Avengers"
The sixties Hammond organ track that is heard over credits and on radios was definitely an attempt at French flavouring, some have picked at its place in a picture of this kind but the theme is suitably unsuitable I think and strangely stays with you after hours.
Soundtrack Available: Unknown
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