If Truffaut had made a film based on an original screenplay by Shirley Jackson, it would go something like "13 Tzameti."
And if that doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will.
This film is as close to perfect as it gets.
You could attribute aspects of it to any number of films, novels, stories, directors, whatever, but what we end up with is a jarring hour and a half of we-dare-you-to-look-away.
As we follow our 'hero' for lack of a better word, we don’t know what is going on any more than he does.
And, as it slowly dawns on him what he’s in for, his eyes grow wider at the same pace that we find ourselves with that dropping feeling in the pit of our stomachs like plunging down the first dive on a roller coaster, knowing that it had just failed a safety inspection.
Truffaut, in all his ordinary glory, (If you can’t tell whether or not that was a compliment, I assure you that it is.) had his protagonists almost sleepwalking through their lives as we watch.
Truffaut's heroes are observers, like Hitchcock's everyman without anything bizarre or dangerous happening.
And our Sebastian is set up as an observer until he suddenly, in a shocking first round to a game that he had no idea he was going to have to play, he realizes that he’s actually one of the ones on show in this morbid story.
Watch this movie. You’ve probably never heard of it.
I don’t care. Find it and watch it. Hell, the poster art is worth the price of admission.