Les Diaboliques is a psychological thriller based on a French book, one that was highly revered at the time, or must have been. The director, Henri-Georges Clouzot, snatched the film rights for it away from Hitchcock himself, so if even Hitch wanted to direct this one, you know it’s gonna be a whopper of a story. Clouzot makes of this a very heady psychological trip, and I’m sure Hitch himself would’ve been proud of what was made of this.
The plot indeed seems like it comes straight out of a Hitchcock film, only instead of the man caught in a web trying to prove his innocence, we deal with two women who fully and completely commit a crime, only for things to start spiraling out of their control when the body mysteriously disappears. It’s an intriguing premise, and a simple one, and it’s what the film does with the premise that makes it stand out from other films of its kind. The film employs a very stark black-and-white cinematography; every shade of black in the film is accented by the film stock, or so it appears, so the film looks more dark than it does light – an intentional choice, I’m sure. The film also often broke one of my rules of good filmmaking: that everything on screen should have a purpose for being on screen. There were times where the film would cut away to other people, and even have long dialogue scenes with them that never pertained to the story at hand, almost as if the film were being deliberately wishy-washy. It wasn’t thrifty, and it happened often enough that it started to annoy me whenever I caught it.
Aside from the odd elongation of the film, thanks to these diversions it would take, the film is surprisingly tight, but for me, it never felt like a staple of the horror genre that it is often attributed. It didn’t feel like a horror film; it was a suspense thriller, along the lines of Hitch’s best work, and it got a little mind-trippy sometimes in the later portion, but never felt like horror to me. Still, as long as you don’t know the ending to this one beforehand (and I’d advise you don’t go looking), you’ll get plenty out of this film, and in exactly the way it wants you to have it.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10