A mood of open-air claustrophobia is the prime calling card of And Soon the Darkness, Robert Fuest’s thriller about the nasty predicament two pretty girls find themselves in while bicycling on holiday through the French countryside. Set along roads that cut through vast fields and by deep forests, the film’s empty spaces are confining and threatening, adding persistent unease to a story that slowly but surely devolves into ludicrousness. After making a stink about the tediousness of their vacation, Cathy (Michele Dotrice) settles down for a nap at the edge of the woods and refuses to budge, compelling her companion Jane (Pamela Franklin) to continue on alone. No sooner are they separated than Cathy is drying mysteriously wet underwear on tree branches and Jane is being warned by a café owner that she shouldn’t be traversing this dangerous road alone. So far so good, though once Jane discovers that Cathy has gone missing, and is then offered help by a stranger named Paul (Sandor Elès) who had been creepily flirting/stalking Cathy and now claims to be a cop, the plot becomes a prolonged game of misdirection, with Fuest ham-fistedly suggesting that every person around – which also includes an old deaf farmer prone to stabbing things with a knife and putting panties on his head – might be Cathy’s abductor. The director’s assured use of silence and well-staged games of cat-and-mouse amplify the malicious, paranoid tone. Yet And Soon the Darkness’s ineffective red herrings contribute to an overarching sense that the film isn’t sure about what destination to choose, an impression solidified by a finale that – despite one expertly deranged smile on a killer’s face – is as random as it is deflating.