Monday, June 30, 2014

Macabre Monday Movie Review

I've been wanting to try something different with my blog, and thought about posting weekly horror/thriller/suspense movie reviews. While I don't know if this will be a continuous feature, there's certainly enough material out there.

The first movie up for review is Dominique (aka Dominique is Dead), a film from 1978, directed by Michael Anderson.

(Minor spoilers below)

Dominique Ballard (Jean Simmons) believes her husband, David (Cliff Robertson), intends to drive her mad. He succeeds, and she commits suicide. Or does she? Soon David finds himself experiencing the same disquieting episodes that drove his wife to her grave. Will Dominique get her revenge?

Dominique plays more suspense than horror, and allows itself to move languidly, foregoing jump cuts or other fast-paced editing intended to keep a viewer on the edge of their proverbial seat. The film is effective at using atmosphere, although at times the screen was so dark, it was impossible to see anything. (But that could have been the quality of the print.) Most of the movie was shot in wide or medium shots, again dispensing with sudden zooms and close ups that filmmakers sometimes rely on for shock effect. The director of Dominique doesn’t seem to be going for outright horror but more of a Hitchcockian vibe, although that’s only my guess.

There were unanswered questions. Dominique suspected her husband of trying to drive her mad. She seemed very rational about it, which begs the question of why she killed herself. Why not just leave? David didn’t come across as a controlling man, and the only reason given for her not being able to go anywhere was she’d fired the chauffer. But a new one, Tony, arrived shortly after. Since he was given orders to drive Dominique wherever she wanted, that would’ve been one way for her to leave.

Motive was also questionable in David’s case, especially at first. His business is failing, and we later find out he wanted Dominique dead so he could get her money. Again, why go through that trouble? Why not just ask for a loan? There was never any indication Dominique wouldn’t give him the money.

Another incongruity was the murder of the doctor who declared Dominique dead. No explanation is given for this action, making it seem superfluous and thrown in to fill time.

The movie could’ve ended after a certain point. That would’ve been sufficient and satisfying. But for some reason, the writers and/or director seemed to want to “explain” the events. Again, I’m not sure if this was because they needed to fill more time, or if they couldn’t bring themselves to accept a paranormal ending.

Dominique isn’t a bad film, despite its flaws. If you enjoy suspenseful movies, you might enjoy it. I’ll definitely be watching it again.

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