Diabolique (1955)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Film Noir  |   Run Time - 107 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Brendon Hanley

French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot created enough pulse-racing suspense in just two movies to take his place in history next to Alfred Hitchcock as one of the finest thriller directors ever. Clouzot followed up his remarkable 1953 action film The Wages of Fear with the dark and mysterious Diabolique (Les Diaboliques). Wages has moments of almost preternatural tension and is arguably the more interesting film, but Diabolique most captured the popular imagination. That's probably due to the film's familiar yet strikingly fresh combination of chilling atmospherics, sexual intrigue, macabre pacing, and influential "horror" plot construction. Typical of many French films of the 1950s, Clouzot's style was influenced by American film noir; unlike the French New Wave films which followed it, Diabolique also revealed the German expressionist roots of noir. The film has been remade three times, as Reflections of Murder, House of Secrets and the pitiful 1996 Diabolique, and many of its plot twists have been recycled in countless other thrillers.