Made in Canada and based on a Yank police precinct novel of Ed McBain, film settles down as an inspector, played with a low profile and humanity by Donald Sutherland, probes a knife killing of a teenage girl and the wounding of another girl who was with her. At first it is felt to be the work of a psychotic but then segues into a middle-class family that might have been the crucible for the gory carryings-on.
French director Claude Chabrol has often used murder as a catalyst in his grim pix about upper-class French life. But here it is more psychosis, repression and jealousy than the more absorbing social patterns of his French work. It makes the pic somewhat ambivalent, for it is a sudden revelation of madness rather than having more depth in characterization and a harder edge focused on its police work.
Playing is generally good. Chabrol shows a narrative and atmospheric flair, ringing in some solid sidebar feel in Donald Pleasence’s rendering of a middle-aged man who likes girls picked up as sex deviates and questioned, and David Hemmings as the older man falling for the victim.