The Night of the 12th review: Sensational slow-burn uses true-crime to raise questions about men and women

'The Night of the 12th'

Hilary White

Hilary White reviews a true-crime thriller.

The Night of the 12th

Five stars

Selected cinemas; Cert 15A

“Police procedural” mightn’t be the most exciting sounding genre but, done right, it can grip like no other, showing us the boundary between good and evil at its most tangibly realistic.

One of the best in memory is this Gallic saga inspired by a real-life cold case. A teenage woman (Lula Cotton-Frapier) leaves her friend’s house late one night and is brutally murdered in a suburb of Grenoble. It coincides with the promotion of young, diligent detective Yohan (Bastien Bouillon) to chief investigator at the local police precinct.

He takes on the case with a jaded and more senior partner (Bouli Lanners) in tow. Central to their investigation are a string of men the victim was involved with, some of whom she kept secret from even her closest friends.

Every promising lead seems to come with an obstacle, however, and as the years roll by and the case gets deeper under Yohan’s skin, the world comes to feel like a place where “something is amiss between men and women”.

Director and co-writer Dominik Moll (Only the Animals) uses controlled pacing and the jutting Alpine backdrop to give this excellent thriller the space to burn slowly but purposefully.