Headstrong mistress (Signoret) and retiring wife (Clouzot) conspire to murder the man they share, a tyrannical headmaster of a seedy boarding-school whose curriculum offers nothing but stagnation and decay. But in this black world (where, ironically, only the dead comes to life) everyone is in the end a victim, and their actions operate like snares setting traps that leave them grasping for survival. The camera watches these clammy proceedings with a cold precision that relishes its neutrality. At least one source claims that all Clouzot's films were shot in an atmosphere of bitterness and recrimination. It shows. But in this case it makes for a great piece of Guignol misanthropy.