It begins like one of these old travelogues that were shown along side the main feature back in the day. Picture it, a long empty, very empty, French highway surrounded by beautiful countryside, made even better by DOP Ian Watson. Laurie Johnson’s upbeat period theme music literally rolls across the farmland, well it is 1969. Into view come two slim young nurses from Nottingham (why Nottingham is never explained) on a European cycling holiday wearing the sort of tight shorts that raise your voice an octave or two. Cathy (Michele Dotrice best known as Mrs Frank Spencer) and Jane (Pamela Franklin) stop at a small village café for refreshments. Its there that Cathy first sees’ the suspicious young Gitane smoking Paul (Sandor Eles) sitting on his Lambretta. Re-joining the road they travel some distance and begin to suspect that the same man is following them. Stopping at a clearing at the side of the highway they have an argument and Cathy will not go on any further, so Jane decides to go on but stopping at the next village, quite convinced that the stroppy Cathy will catch up. Meanwhile back at the clearing strange things occurs! Cathy’s bike wheel is vandalised, her underwear is strewn all over the clearing and she’s sure someone is watching her. Jane decides to return to find Cathy after a local woman informs her that this is a bad area for two lone girls to be in!!! When Jane returns to the clearing both Cathy and her bike have disappeared. Trotting on to the local Gendarme to report a missing person she’s told that a young blond girl was murdered in the locale exactly three year ago and the culprit has never been apprehended, oh did I neglect to tell you that Cathy is blond: sorry.
This rather atmospheric drama is directed by Robert Fuest, normally found at the helm of horror films, and was written and produced by the team behind the hit TV series The Avengers. And Soon the Darkness (1970) is the sort of film you don’t really want to like, in fact it has a leering sinister feel to the whole thing but it does surprisingly build up a good head of suspense with the local populace all under suspicion leaving you guessing right to the end. At times a wee bit implausible for example I don’t think two girls would not go on a long cycling holiday with not much more than a couple of spare pairs of nickers and a clean bra. Made on location in France and at the Elstree Studios it oddly stays with you and I can imagine watching it again!!