I absolutely love Wages of Fear. Really. It's a film that I have seen 4 or 5 times by now and every single time it just blows me away. I rank it in my personal top 10 favorites as well as in what I believe to be the 10 best films that I have seen so far in my movie watching years.
The reason I mention this is because Clouzot directed both Wages of Fear and Diabolique and even though I am a huge fan of Wages of Fear, I have just never gotten around to seeing Diabolique even though it is considered to be his big claim to fame and his most famous work. Seeing that Halloween was coming around the corner I finally decided to bump the criterion dvd at the top of my queue and finally sit down and watch it. I was expecting an excellent film due to all the praise that I have seen the film get over the years and I got just that.
The wife and mistress of a cruel school headmaster decide to one night kill him. Everything goes smoothly at first until his body disappears followed by strange occurences that begin to happen around the school.
Diabolique is a classy horror film that is directed with such a great sense of pace and timing that you are pulled into it slowly but before you know it you are absorbed by it all. There are no real scare scenes and the horror that the film provokes is due to it's great sense of suspense, paranoia, and despair that the film slowly builds on until the final chilling couple of minutes.
Speaking about the final couple of minutes; it is amazing stuff that still holds up perfectly, much like the rest of the film.