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Meet the Staff
Andrew Korcheck
Andrew Korcheck
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Ally Kling
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Diabolique (1955): A Review

Diabolique Review (1955)

A review by Allyson Kling

 

Diabolique is a French psychological horror film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. This film has been placed under Turner Classic Movies’ ‘Essentials’ list alongside the notable title Psycho (1960). According to a 1955 review of Diabolique from the New York Times where the author spoke on their experience seeing it at a benefit premiere, the film “is one of the dandiest mystery dramas that has shown here in goodness knows when.” The film is based off of the 1952 novel Celle Qui N’était Plus (She Who Was No More) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.

I will attempt to explain the plot in my own words, no spoilers involved. This film largely takes place in a French boarding school for boys, which also houses the headmaster, named Michel, his sickly wife, Christina, and Michel’s mistress, Nicole. Nicole and Christina are both teachers at the school, and they are both aware of Michel’s unfaithfulness. Michel also knows that they’re aware, and the staff and students at the school know as well. Initially, Christina and Nicole don’t like one another, but quickly abandon their bitterness. Early in the film, they form a bond over a hatred for Michel, for he abuses them both emotionally and physically, and is also abusive towards the children at the boarding school. Through this mutual despise, the women compile a plan to murder Michel. In this film, you will see Christina and Nicole’s plan unfold, and the twists and turns along the way.

FIVE STARS

Personally, I thought this film was a cinematic masterpiece. When I chose to watch it, I had never seen or heard anything about the film before. Honestly, I was attracted to it because of the interesting cover art. Additionally, I chose to watch it because it had received very high ratings from both the audience and Rotten Tomatoes. When starting the film, I had no idea what it was about. I was very pleasantly surprised! This movie kept my attention for the entirety and offered up a true mystery. Throughout the climax of the story, I really didn’t know what was going to happen next, which is so rare when watching horror films. I very much appreciated the unpredictable quality of this film along with its originality for the time. Most horror films I’ve seen from this era have something to do with a giant ____ invading a city or a plastic-looking monster terrorizing a group of people, but Diabolique offered up a whole new type of entertainment when it comes to 1950s horror. (The giant ____ movies and the monster movies are good too, go watch some!) Lastly, I very much enjoyed the cinematography of this movie. I feel like everything on set was minimalistic and necessary while still appearing beautiful and detailed. All of the character’s personas aligned very well with their design. Bravo!

 

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