Written and Directed by Mickey Keating
A young woman takes on a housekeeping job at an old property with a horrific history that includes playing host to a suicide of its former caretaker. Settling into her new accomodation, the long hours alone plays havoc with the young woman’s sanity until she finally snaps with disasterous consequences.
Black and white horror thriller DARLING isn’t your typical horror film. There’s no running around like a madman, slashing at anything that comes by nor is it a Hollywood affair with a big name star attached. I can’t say, other than at film festivals such as Grimmfest, would I expect to see Darling at the cinema. This is purely an arthouse type of cinema catering for the crowds who appreciate moving images more than dialogue and with long lengthy silences with very little going on except for fast cuts and inserts of our lead in a deranged state. If you appreciate the quiet approach of a drama which watches, like a fly eye on the wall, of the unravelling of its lead character, then you might well be in for a treat.
Lauren Ashley Carter stars as the nervous-looking, innocent young woman who takes on the housekeeping job. Dressed very reservedly, we get the impression that this gal doesn’t get out much which leaves her as a guillible, weakened soul that the haunted house of evil can manpulate in its favour. Apart from a locked room on the upper floors, there’s nothing exactly menacing about the house apart from its history and the odd noise now and then. Living alone in the house fails to produce the usual “family-member-turning-psycho” scenes we’re used to seeing in other horror movies as the young woman has no-one to interact with… that is until she brings one back home with her after bumping into a gentleman on the street.
Long stares, silences and nightmarish visions are pretty much what DARLING consists of. To some, the pure cinematography, black and white colour and quirkiness of it all may be enough to impress but I was left bored stiff with what little happened on screen. As someone who isn’t very “arty, I find it hard to enjoy these films at the best of times and DARLING is unfortunately another which just doesn’t cut it with me. That being said, I appreciate the range of the lead star, Lauren Ashley Carter, who carries the entire movie and manages to display the mental breakdown of her unnamed character.
The violence rarely comes in this movie but when it does, it’s pretty brutal! Of course, with the black and white tone of the film, the red stuff might not be in abundance but the dark shades splatter across most parts of the immediate environment. The frenzied attacks can be a bit of a shock to witness due to the quiet nature of the movie leading up to that point, but as much as they can be enjoyed from horror fans, these scenes also feel a little sprung upon without much of a story to have an emotional impact on the viewer even if it does on the character.
DARLING is one of those movies that I think will split opinion depending on what you enjoy from a movie. Unfortunately, DARLING didn’t tick any of my boxes and left me a little underwhelmed despite its stylish cinematography.