Dominique (1978)

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Dominique (1978)
Cast:  Cliff Robertson, Jean Simmons, Jenny Agutter, Simon Ward, Ron Moody, Jack Warner
Director: Michael Anderson
Nutshell:  Ponderous and convoluted tale of scheming revenge suffers from tedious and uninspired direction and terrible pacing

 

Dominique’s marriage to stockbroker David Ballard is on the rocks.  He is having severe financial issues and the only way out he can see is putting his wife’s resources to use.  She meanwhile seems to be at a heightened state of extreme paranoia and reckons it is her husband who is driving her round the bend.  She hears strange sounds in the night: a piano from the drawing room plays incessantly at the stroke of midnight and there are strange misplaced footsteps.  She finds a woman dangling from a rope, swinging back and forth against the moonlight and totters close to the edge of breakdown.  A breakdown she is convinced has been triggered and schemed by her husband in order to get at her estate.

Days later Dominique herself is found hanging from a rope having supposedly killed herself.  Ballard hardly displays any emotion at all and is relieved to be rid of his pathetic wife and get to keep her money and attends to his failing business ventures with renewed purpose.

Soon however the same routine that “haunted” Dominique returns and Ballard is left floundering.  The Piano starts to play at night on its own and there are strange footsteps followed by what appears to be a dead Dominique walking down the hall in a black cloak.  He begins to find this black cloaked figure virtually stalking him and together with the increasingly odd occurrences at home, starts to doubt his own sanity as well.  How can it be Dominique returning for her revenge?  Isn’t she supposed to be lying cold stone dead in one of the graves nearby?  Could it be that Dominique has somehow managed to play a game with him to drive him insane just as he had schemed against her?

Night after night a cloaked Dominique visits the old house making sure her ex-husband feels the brunt of her appearance ultimately driving him to a horrible premature burial.  There are some twists that unfurl in the last ten minutes of the movie; some of them utterly predictable such as who exactly was behind the masterful scheme but there is also a spectacular unmasking scene and those are worth their weight in gold.

Dominique is an old school style story that feels and plays very much like an old Hammer Horror TV show.  It is clunky and ponderous with hardly any gore at all and zero shocks or scares.  That it is generally listed as a horror film is a little surprising considering there is literally one fleeting moment of horror.  The film is flat, dull and about as exciting as a glass of tepid warm water on a scorching hot day.

Other than one or two fleeting moments and a murder you will miss if you blink, the film is a one-way ticket to Dullsville.

In all honesty in with no offence to anyone or anything the best-case scenario would be as follows:  that the films remake rights would best be snapped up by Jeetendra’s daughters and made into a Khoon Bhari Maang style horror extravaganza revenge-action-tearjerker-shocker hopefully starring Raj Babbar and Jaya Prada, Bipasha Basu and Emraan Hashmi among others.