Diabolique (Les Diaboliques)

Critics Consensus

Cruel, dark, but undeniably effective, Diabolique is a suspense thriller as effective as Hitchcock's best work and with a brilliant twist ending.



Reviews Counted: 42

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User Ratings: 10,244


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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 4.2/5

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Movie Info

The greatest film that Alfred Hitchcock never made, Henri-Georges Clouzot's Diabolique is set in a provincial boarding school run by headmaster Michel Delasalle (Paul Meurisse). A ruthless lothario, he becomes the target of a murder plot concocted by his long-suffering invalid wife Christina (Vera Clouzot, the director's own spouse) and his latest mistress, an icy teacher played by Simone Signoret. A dark, dank thriller with a much-imitated "shock" ending, Diabolique is a masterpiece of Grand Guignol suspense. The simple murder plot goes haywire, and Michel's corpse disappears, prompting strange rumors of his reappearance which grow more and more substantial as the film careens wildly towards its breathless conclusion. Later remade as a greatly inferior 1996 Hollywood feature with Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Diabolique (Les Diaboliques)

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (8)

Superbly acted, Les diaboliques is as effective a thriller as Hitchcock's film, if lacking the depth and resonance.

Mar 22, 2011 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Satisfying, elegant and nasty.

Mar 17, 2011 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Although this has a few hallucinating bits of terror, the film is primarily a creaky-door type of melodrama.

Aug 13, 2007 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Cruel, sour, and -- unfortunately -- very effective.

Aug 13, 2007 | Full Review…

A great piece of Guignol misanthropy.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

This is one of the dandiest mystery dramas that has shown here in goodness knows when.

May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Diabolique (Les Diaboliques)

A great thriller built on an intriguing mystery and with a very unexpected ending, but I imagine how much more tense and engaging it would have been in Hitchcock's hands, as it feels a tad dry with its lack of score and doesn't create the sort of impact that it naturally should.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Diabolique is a milestone in horror filmmaking and a wonderful look back at a time when filmmakers used suspense to frighten audiences, not cheap "boo" scares. Smartly made, chilling, and its ending is truly disturbing.

Edward Boxler
Edward Boxler

Super Reviewer


This film (almost) has it all: it's a suspense thriller, a mystery, a domestic (melo)drama, and even a bit of a horror film. It's widely regarded as a classic, and its influence is undeniable. I really, really liked, but didn't quite love this film. I thought I would love it, but, alas, I did not. I mostly think it's because I wasn't totally surprised by this film, and it didn't feel totally fresh. Had I seen this when it came out (or had it been the first film I ever saw), I'd probably be singing a slightly more praising tune. This film is still quite excellent though, and the twists are really cool. It's like a Hitchcock film, which is definite high praise. Hell, this seems like something he should have done. I guess Clouzot just beat him to the punch. Besides a twisty and well crafted plot, there's a wonderful atmosphere at hand. The film looks gorgeous in black and white, and it adds to the spooky, odd tone of things. The direction is very sharp and lets everything unfold in a deliberate way. I really liked the performances, especially Simone Signoret's. She's fantastic. Definitely check this one out. I was slightly underwhelmed, hence why it doesn't have a full 5 like I thought I might give it. It's still a very amazing film though that is incredibly well done and great at holding one's attention.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

An absolutely stunning cinematic achievement. Clouzot not only unfolds a great mystery before our eyes, but for being over 55 years old it is still more terrifying than anything that the recent spat of modern horror directors could serve up. The story isn't convoluted and there is a constricted atmosphere that permeates the entire two hours. The camera remarkably serves as the omniscient observer, delightfully teasing the horrors to come. The music isn't leading nor is the editing flashy. Clouzot just makes us wade in the horror and it is riveting. Throw away your Hostel collection and your Nightmare on Elm Street reissues, this is this only thriller you need on your shelf.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

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