The most puzzling aspect of this tedious four-hander about two servant sisters who murder their employer and her daughter in a French smalltown in 1932 is how such plumb material could miss. Christine (Richardson) and Lea (May) are sisters whose alienation from the rest of society has transported them to cuckoo-land and into one another's arms. Employed in the service of the imperious Mme Danset (Walters) whose initial kindness evaporates into suspicion and cruelty as she begins to suspect them of getting more than a good night's sleep in their sparsely furnished room.
Directed by theatre doyen Meckler, this has all the trappings of a converted stage play. The actresses' emotions are far too magnified for film work, they cannot help but seem to be overacting. Narrow claustrophobic camera angles merely contribute to the unreality and dull our senses to a trauma which, thanks to a particularly bloody title sequence, we already know is coming.
Where the film is weakest is its failure to create an environment where such madness could be possible. The decision to play Walters' character for laughs was a mistake, making her far too likeable and reducing our sympathy for the murderesses. At least Sophie Thursfield passes muster as Madame's surly and resentful daughter, her fractiousness provides some mercifully light moments. And, anyway, this female-buddies-go-psycho genre has been done to death by the likes of Heavenly Creatures and Fun, with, it has to be said, a whole lot more aplomb.