C’est un monde interdit que celui du DIABLE EST PARMI NOUS. Un monde où le mystère est compact, un monde qui raconte l’histoire d’un homme et de deux femmes prisonniers d’un pacte infernal.
Cet homme c’est Paul (DANIEL PILON) qui, à la suite de la mort inexplicable d’un ami, tentera d’aller jusqu’au fond des choses.
Virginie (DANIELLE OUIMET), qui est au début du film la maîtresse de la victime, sera impuissante à fournir à Paul la moindre explication sur ce qui parait être un affreux suicide. La main qui frappe est invisible. Après avoir trouvé son chat mort dans son propre appartement, c’est, pour Paul, un interminable cauchemar jonché de scènes lugubres et de macabres découvertes qui commencera. Lorsqu’il fait la connaissance d’Hélène (LOUISE MARLEAU), Paul croit et nous laisse croire qu’il pourra être heureux avec elle. Mais la vieille rôde, « grand-mère » comme on l’appelle, personnage visqueux interprété par Rose-Rey Duzil. Serait-elle ou non l’émissaire du diable, l’ambassadrice d’une puissance occulte?
À la suite de circonstances mystérieuses, Hélène et Paul se retrouvent à une messe noire. Les révélations y seront nombreuses, mais le mystère s’épaissira davantage, car Paul y retrouvera des gens au-dessus de tout soupçon. Les dés sont jetés et les cartes jouées. Paul est pris dans l’obscur réseau d’une machination diabolique, il devra aller au bout de son destin.
Dans le monde du crime, on dit généralement que tout est explicable, mais rappelons-nous que dans la vie, bien des choses demeurent inexpliquées.
It is early morning in the elegant apartment when Jacques wakes with a start. He is dazed, as though still in the clutches of a bad dream, and does not even look at the attractive girl in bed beside him. Like a sleepwalker he gropes to the bathroom, caressing his favourite antique pieces and objets d’art, as though for the first—or last time. Seemingly drawn by an unseen force, he continues toward the window. Jacques climbs onto the balcony and jumps off.
The ring of the telephone awakens the girl. Looking out the window, she is horrified by the sight of Jacques’ body on the pavement, five floors below. An ambulance arrives and spectators gather, including a little old lady with white gloves, all pressed toward the body while photographers take pictures…
In the middle of his handball game, Claude Lavergne receives an urgent phone call. Annoyed, his face soon reflects shock and grief as he learns of his friend’s suicide. At the morgue, he identifies Jacques’ remains and answers a deluge of official questions. Distracted and upset, he finds his way to his office at the magazine where he is employed as a writer. “It just doesn’t make sense,” he thinks to himself, sitting down at his desk. Why would a successful antique dealer—attractive, popular, without any obvious personal or business problems—jump out of a fifth floor window? Claude’s mind ranges over the events of the past few hours. The call interrupting the handball game, the morgue with his friend under a sheet, the endless questions… Pulling out the photos the police had lent him, Claude rings for the copy boy. “Make enlargements of the areas I’ve circled,” he instructs him, pointing to a photo of Jacques’ body and to another of the crowd around the ambulance. Frowning, he awaits the results. His reflections are broken by a knock on the door.
His friend Pierre enters and insists he come to a party that evening to take his mind off Jacques. Reluctantly, Claude accepts. That evening Claude arrives at the party which is already in full swing. All the standard types of the beautiful circles are there in full force: boisterous film producers, cruising homosexuals, risqué show girls. They all engage in witty, suggestive repartee. Claude finds himself attracted to Danielle, a rising young pianist. After an intimate dance they move to an adjoining bedroom. Claude begins to kiss her ear but is startled by a strange mark behind her earlobe. The mood is broken; Danielle departs. The mark, Claude remembers, is similar to one found on Jacques’ leg in one of the photographs. His curiosity drags him to the office but the enlarged photo is too grainy to give him any information.
It is 2 a.m, Claude drives down to the city morgue. It is pitch dark and absolute silence prevails. But which casket contains the body? He pulls open a drawer and a white hand falls out. It is not Jacques’ hand. A rat scurries across the floor with a frightening clatter. Finally he does identify Jacques. And without a doubt the mark matches Danielle’s. Claude’s professional and personal curiosity is hopelessly aroused. He must discover the true cause of Jacques’ suicide. What could be the link between his friend and the pianist? He strikes upon a scheme germane to his journalistic mind. A feature on Danielle! What a perfect way to cultivate her confidence and her information!
The following morning, he visits his boss’s office to present him with his idea. After a run-in with his prissy French secretary, Claude is permitted to enter. He is shown into a large office housing a number of aquariums filled with rare fish. The boss is seated at a long desk barren of any sign of papers or correspondence. He is feeding his pet piranha fish. After a discussion on fish-raising, they arrive at the purpose of Claude’s visit. Claude presents his idea and initially the boss balks. But seeing that his reporter is adamant, he relents.
Claude takes Danielle out in order to break the news to her. She is extremely aloof and informs him that he must contact her agent if he wishes permission to write about her. They drive to Old Montreal for lunch, and there amid the quaint old homes and specialty boutiques the atmosphere grows less tense, more relaxed and friendly. After dining in an intimate cafe, they stroll hand in hand through the narrow cobblestone streets. Claude is exuberant: he buys Danielle a little doll and runs down the street. Danielle is happy, yet wistful. Understanding, he leads her back to the car. Upon his return to his apartment, a young boy delivers to him an unstamped envelope without a return address. It contains only a blank black card.
The next day Claude goes to the antique shop formerly owned by Jacques. Inside, waiting on customers, is Jacques’ friend and heiress Virginia. She is too busy to talk at length but agrees to join him at his apartment at 2 p.m. Back home, Claude brings in the bottle of milk on his stoop and gives some to his cat. After pouring himself a drink of scotch in the adjoining room, he walks into the kitchen. His cat is dead. Claude smells the milk; it is poisoned. Immediately he dials the number of the SPCA. In a few minutes the doorbell rings and he admits the man from the SPCA. After filling out the proper forms and asking a number of questions, he takes away the cat and the poisoned milk. Again the doorbell rings. This time it is Virginia.
Virginia and Claude discuss Jacques’ last days and his mental state during that time. He had been anxious about something, Virginia tells him, but his affairs all seemed to be in good order and he never mentioned that he was troubled or depressed. Virginia serves herself a glass of scotch as they talk. She takes a sip, screams, and drops to the floor. Claude rushes her to the bathroom and succeeds in forcing her to vomit out the poison. It must have been the SPCA man… He puts Virginia to bed and drives furiously down to the SPCA. “I demand the name of the driver who picked up my cat,” he shouts. The official behind the counter checks his card. “I’m sorry, Sir. We haven’t gotten to your house yet.” Confusedly Claude makes his way to Danielle’s house. Her maid informs him that her mistress is out of town, and slams the door. But in the adjacent room only a few feet away sits Danielle surrounded by friends including the man from the SPCA and various faces from the party. All but Danielle are laughing. Back at the apartment, he finds Virginia taking a bath to recuperate. She admits to him that she was the girl with Jacques the night before his death. He had telephoned her at work and begged her to come over. Jacques was very agitated about something that night, but had refused to talk about it. And he did not want to spend the night alone.
Claude meets Danielle’s agent at work the following morning. Initially he is uncooperative, but makes a phone call which changes his mind. Agreeing to the project, the agent informs him that he can meet Danielle at a certain bar that evening. Claude is shocked to learn that she has been in town all along. Later he goes to the bar, which is in a neighbourhood he rarely frequents. It is decorated in reds and blacks with eerie lighting and dim shadows. The atmosphere is close and seductive. Danielle is seated at the piano playing music to suit her varying moods. Claude joins her as three dancers converge on the floor. They participate in a highly erotic ballet, and the women dancers approach Danielle while the man comes toward Claude. There is a definite undercurrent of perversion, and both Claude and Danielle are uncomfortable. They leave the stifling atmosphere, not even waiting for their change.
Back home, Claude finds his apartment door open and everything turned upside down. “Virginia,” he calls, but she is gone. On his desk is a black card, reading “In Warehouse #8, Milton Street.” Alarmed, Claude races in his auto to Milton Street, a rundown area near the docks. The ramshackle houses are barely visible in the moonless obscurity. Continuing on to a group of abandoned, half ruined brick barns, he pulls up in front of #8, its weathered address barely visible. Grabbing a flash light and a steel rod, Claude stumbles toward the door. It creaks open and he gasps in horror. Virginia is suspended from a rope, strangled, her tongue hanging out, her body badly gashed, and a pool of blood below her feet. Terrified, Claude runs outside, searching for a telephone. The neighbourhood is deserted and no telephone booth is in sight. He drops his flashlight and runs to the street, attempting to hail a cruising cab. But he scares off the taxi driver with his frantic waving of the steel club. Finally, he breaks the protected window of the drugstore across the street and awaits the police. They arrive; Claude points toward the warehouse. The police charge into the barn, but it is empty. The body is gone; all that remains is the severed rope and the pool of blood.
The next day the police investigate his story and Claude drives past the store where Virginia had worked. The door bears a black sign, CLOSED. To ease his nerves and to continue his own investigation, Claude takes Danielle to her birthplace in the country. Along with the photographer they stage all the improbable poses that normally populate magazine personality features. Danielle is photographed on a horse and on skis, although she has never tried either sport in her life. They are hilarious and Claude’s tension disappears. Danielle is touched at the sight of her tiny schoolhouse and her elderly father, who has never left the small rural village. Their gaiety becomes romance at a candlelight dinner in the charming country inn where they spend the night. Claude and Danielle realize that they are deeply in love. They go upstairs and make passionate, tender love. Gently caressing each other afterward, they are both content. Back in town, Claude decides to visit Jacques’ apartment to see if it affords any clues to his suicide. Already inside the apartment when he enters is the same little old lady with the white gloves who was present in the crowd the morning of Jacques’ suicide. She hides in the closet and prepares to defend herself with a hat pin. But Claude merely looks around and selects a few unusual objects, including black candlesticks and a bronze toad, and leaves. Exhausted by the strange events of the past few days, Claude falls asleep on his couch. Images begin to flow before his eyes, coming into focus and blurring into other forms. His cat appears, and becomes a frog and then turns into Jacques hurtling down from the balcony. He hears Virginia scream and choke and then sees her hanging from the warehouse roof. From time to time Danielle is visible, moving in and out of the grotesque figures like a beam of light. Startled, he sits up and gets a glass of water. He switches on the bedroom light and confronts the little old lady lying on his bed like a corpse. He shakes her; she is indeed dead. As he turns to leave the room, she jumps at him with a knife and stabs him repeatedly.
Claude awakens, badly shaken. To reassure himself that his dream-within-a-dream is over, he flicks on the bedroom light. This time, he is alone. Danielle rings his doorbell. They are overjoyed to be together again. Their conversation is happy and affectionate until Danielle remarks upon the candlesticks and frog. The mood is altered and sobriety replaces gaiety. Claude tells her the story of Jacques’ suicide. “And you have the same mark as he,” Claude tells Danielle. Frightened, Danielle warns him to abandon his investigation. Truly concerned for his safety, she cautions him that the force he is fighting is greater and stronger than he has dreamed. Seeing that he is determined to continue his investigation, she brings over a bottle of wine and some pills. “Trust me,” she says, and swallows a pill. He does the same, and they soon fall deeply asleep. The buzzing of the doorbell awakens Claude some twenty-two hours later. Danielle has arranged for a taxi to take them to a “Black Mass”. No explanations are given by Danielle but she sorrowfully assures Claude that he will soon understand everything. The cab pulls up before a huge old house on the edge of town. The doorman greets and recognizes Danielle, who squeezes Claude’s hand reassuringly. The rooms are stark and decorated with red, magenta and black draperies. They change into black robes and masks and enter a dim room where a group of black-robed people partake of fruit and wine. The leader appears and the ritual begins. The cult makes odd signs and the assistants burn incense, while all call upon supernatural powers. A young neophyte is about to be initiated into the sect. As she repeats the oaths after the leader, Claude becomes increasingly agitated. Instead of the neophyte, he sees Danielle standing in the front. It becomes time for the neophyte to sign her pact with the supernatural forces. In exchange for twenty years of prosperity and success, she swears loyalty and obedience to the group. A mysterious hand with five identical fingers reaches out of the obscurity and touches her cheek, leaving a mark identical to those of Danielle and Jacques. Her blood is mixed with that of the last member to have died—Jacques. She is then stripped of her mask and faces the assembly. Claude gasps—it is Virginia! One by one the sect members discard their masks. Claude recognizes the leader as his boss’s secretary, and his assistant as the little old lady with white gloves. Whirling around, he finds the guests from the party, the clients from the bar, the man from the SPCA, Danielle’s maid… Claude grabs Danielle’s hand and they stumble outside. Suddenly it becomes apparent that the Mass has been watched on closed circuit television. When Claude and Danielle come into view, the set is clicked off. As they run into the street, they are mowed down by a white Rolls Royce driven by Claude’s boss. They are killed instantly.