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Darling

Darling

Terror Beyond ComprehensionSep. 24, 2015 USA78 Min.
Your rating: 0
8.5 1,315 votes

Video trailer

Director

Cast

Larry Fessenden isOfficer Maneretti
Officer Maneretti
John Speredakos isOfficer Clayton
Officer Clayton
Al-Nisa Petty isMiss Hill
Miss Hill
Helen Rogers isThe New Girl
The New Girl

Synopsis

A young woman slowly goes crazy after taking a job as the caretaker for an ancient New York home.

Darling
Original titleDarling
IMDb Rating5.7 1,643 votes
TMDb Rating5.2 16 votes

(28) comments

  • hepodcastOctober 14, 2015Reply

    Human Echoes Rundown: Darling is terrifying, beautiful, and well crafted.

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • targosfan1April 6, 2016Reply

    Excellent Indie Horror

    I just saw this and liked it very much. The film starts slowly by
    design, and misdirects you into thinking this will be innocent young
    girl vs. ghost of devil worshipping former owner, but takes an
    unexpected turn i doubt anyone will see coming.

    The camera is always on the lead actress, often in serious closeup,
    which must have been a challenge for her but she eats up the camera.
    Lovely black and white photography, sharp direction, great creepy old
    mansion location.

    Like the best low or micro budget films puts bloated un-scary Hollywood
    products to shame. Two severed thumbs up!

  • wildsparrow16April 8, 2016Reply

    Officially the worst thriller I have ever seen. And I have seen them all.

    In the movies defense, I was not able to get through the whole thing
    because I didn’t have pins available to hold my eyes open through the
    boredom. It sounded intriguing – reminiscent of the original Haunting
    of Hill House. It is filmed in black and white with very little
    dialogue (literally, no script). So the wide-eyed lead actress wanders
    aimlessly through the mansion and streets – we get the impression she
    is already unstable – I don’t think the house is to blame, but I never
    finished watching it. A door slams in her bedroom – okay, I guess
    that’s a ghost. A strange man appears on the street and she has
    sadistic and bloody flashbacks that go too quickly to decipher
    anything.

    If gore, devils and bloody walls are your thing, you might like this. I
    was expecting more of a psychological thriller. I want my $ 6.99 back
    (seriously).

  • lauralmhsApril 11, 2016Reply

    And now for something completely different….

    Darling is HORRIBLE! ….But in a good way…. Well, mostly….

    Briefly, the story revolves around a rather odd young woman (whose back
    story we unfortunately know nothing about) who takes a job as a house-
    sitter in an old New York City mansion reputed to be haunted.

    I ordinarily hate blood and guts in my horror, preferring my horror to
    be of a more ”psychological” nature. (I would rather have a ”horror”
    movie get into my head and work on my nerves than have it punch me in
    the stomach and work on my viscera.) But although this movie has gore
    aplenty, I can almost overlook it (not easy in this case) in favor of
    the aspects of the film that got to me on more of a cerebral level.

    I’ve always maintained that what you DON’T see is infinitely scarier
    than what you do see, and this is why I give this movie pluses as well
    as minuses. I would give is a much higher rating if it had toned down
    the gore factor. As someone who has always had a taste for horror, I
    can honestly say that this movie had tremendous potential, but alas it
    was just too gory for my tastes.

    That being said, what I did like so much about this movie is that it
    has elements of many of my favorites: It is reminiscent of Rosemary’s
    Baby in its setting, Carnival of Souls in the internal isolation of the
    protagonist, Psycho in its black & white format, The Haunting in its
    creepy use of sound effects and lighting, and The Innocents in its
    raising of the question ”Is it her or is it the house?” Moreover, it
    fits right into the current trend in horror movies whose strength lies
    in their sense of tension and foreboding. One scene in this movie where
    a door slams in a deadly quiet bedroom nearly gave me heart failure. I
    know that doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but THAT is the kind of
    horror I love!

    Even though I feel that Darling borrowed from many of the greats, I
    still feel that it was something very unlike anything I’ve ever seen
    before in its minimalist, stylistic, artsy rendering: The flashing
    lights and hallucinogenic imagery (which you are actually warned about
    after the opening credits, something I’ve never seen done before in a
    movie), the music (sometimes just eerie, at other times
    spine-tingling), and the editing (spliced with lightning fast, almost
    subliminal scenes of horror). Honorable mention goes to the lovely,
    ghostly, ”haunting” images of New York City which pepper the film.

    There are scenes from this movie (some gory and stomach-churning,
    others just plain creepy and genuinely frightening) that will be
    indelibly etched in your memory.

    Although I was, for the most part, impressed with the basic artistry of
    this film, my biggest gripe is my feeling that the movie can’t decide
    what it really wants to be. It’s almost like two movies in one,
    straddling the line between two sub-genres of horror: slasher/gore
    horror smack dab in the middle, sandwiched between two slices of
    strictly psychological horror toward the beginning and again at the
    end.

    Another fault I found is that while I have no problem with ”open-ended”
    movies, or movies that leave the viewer wondering, there were just too
    many unanswered questions to the plot, chiefly concerning the identity
    of Darling’s oh-so-unfortunate victim. Was he just some random pick-up
    that the protagonist was merely ”projecting” onto, or did he have an
    actual history in her past? Was the house really haunted or is our star
    just a psychopath, or both? I actually viewed it twice, thinking that I
    would glean more the second time around, to little avail.

    Oh, a word about the acting. There are few characters in the story, and
    little dialogue, but the movie is carried by the excellent acting
    ability and facial expressions of the lead. There is a scene where she
    opens up a door to a hitherto forbidden room, clutches her hair and
    screams in horror – at what, we don’t know, but I thought that scene
    was great! There is another scene at the end where you can almost see
    the circles darkening under her eyes as she grimly contemplates what
    she ultimately does (which I won’t give away, but suffice to say I also
    loved the scene where she tells the owner of the house over the phone
    that she’s going to become her next ghost story. Chilling!)

    Despite the aforementioned (not insubstantial) gore factor, I was
    pretty impressed with Darling and would love to see more movies like
    this from this director.

  • Joetampa90April 12, 2016Reply

    Maddening

    In a genre filled with clichés and poor acting, Darling is a breath of
    fresh air. Never before has a film made me feel the way Darling made me
    feel. A dreadful experience from start to finish, and I mean that in
    the best way possible. Following the story of a girl who loses her mind
    Darling is anything but a cookie cutter horror movie. Starring Lauren
    Ashley Carter who shows she is a magnificent actress. Shot in black and
    white which feels so perfect for this movie I can’t even imagine it
    getting the same reaction in color. A grim eerie soundtrack makes up
    for a substantial lack of dialogue. The quick flashing imagery may
    overburden the viewer at times, but it serves its purpose in making you
    anxious and distressed. By the end of the film I too nearly felt as
    though I’d lost my mind along with the girl. If you’re looking for
    something truly different and harrowing, I surely recommend this work.

  • maximebetApril 13, 2016Reply

    A remake but no mention of it

    I did enjoy this movie but after watching and remembering the original
    that i truly loved ,i was looking in the credits but i could not find a
    mention of Roman Polansky’s 1965 movie ”Repulsion” with Catherine
    Deneuve of which this is obviously a remake, there are even a few
    french songs (one with Edith Piaf) in the sound track not to mention
    that is was shot in black and white (as was the original). I enjoy a
    revisit of great movies, it sometimes give a new twist to a good plot
    or treatment but do not pretend that this work is original!
    Intellectual integrity where are you?

    Just my 2 grains of salt

  • FlowApril 14, 2016Reply

    Sean Young is the reason I watched it.

    And good thing I did so, because she only appeared for a few minutes!!
    For me this movie did not work, had very little to offer and if you’re
    into such productions just watch Repulsion from 65 and have some time
    well spent.

    Some of the scenes seemed random, maybe they had a secret meaning, and
    maybe my eye is untrained but it did look strange. Even the structure,
    going so fast for the climax and then taking its time to end and trying
    to offer some closure or what exactly? I mean you are left with a
    little over half of hour of..explaining the broken mind?

    Anyway, all in all, it is not something to recommend, from my point of
    view, with so many other good ones out there, leave Darling for a
    lonely and curious night at most, when you want to see what the fuss is
    about, cause it will bore you and leave you completely unsatisfied.

    Cheers!

  • kittingrrlApril 14, 2016Reply

    hot garbage

    oh I was so disappointed in this. it was laughably predictable. the
    acting was overwrought and amateurish. how can washing your hands look
    so overtly dramatic? I’m quite prepared to deal with style over
    substance, but it sucks when there is neither going on. looked like
    someone watched some old French flicks and I thought ”I can do that!”
    no sir, no you can’t. I’d rather watch some old white zombie videos. I
    thought by having Larry Fessenden in it, it wouldn’t be all bad. I was
    so wrong. oh Larry, what the hell? I guess the 60 seconds he was in it
    was probably the best part so there’s that.

    avoid at all costs.

  • davidallenusa-31754April 28, 2016Reply

    I only saw the first part of the movie (see details about why in review) but I liked what I saw….hope to see the whole movie another time!

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • enyasurvivorMay 16, 2016Reply

    A Modern Twist on Classic Themes

    The film is essentially a hodge-podge of classic 60s horror references
    and imagery mixed with modern-style jumps and scares to keep you on
    your toes. Does it always work though? No, it doesn’t. While most of
    the jumps are well-coordinated and add an essential level of terror to
    the atmosphere, there were others that felt impatient and cheap,
    deflating the room of suspense and tension. I still give this 8 stars
    because the cinematography is incredible and Lauren Ashley Carter is a
    true star. The screenplay is also quite good, with the story broken up
    into several chapters for the audience to easily understand her descent
    into madness. Overall, this horror film made me and my friends scream
    as well as kept us up at night, which is the goal of the film.

  • Ruby ChangMay 24, 2016Reply

    completely unsettling

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • susannaepattersonJuly 16, 2016Reply

    Excellent Thriller

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • zettaichanJuly 17, 2016Reply

    Stylish and overwrought, but it works (hints of mild spoilers)

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • mjsregJuly 18, 2016Reply

    Something different

    Its nice to see a film maker do something different that works – and
    works well.

    This film isn’t the usual offering of horror/thriller fare. The whole
    story is not handed to you on a plate, and you have to fill in some of
    the blanks yourself. Intentional or not, it seems to work.

    I think this is a film the viewer will either love or hate.

    No doubt this was made with the psychological thrillers of the 50s and
    60s in mind, with a bit of film noir thrown in to complete the mix.

    Lauren Ashley Carter plays the main character in the film. In fact,
    apart from a few short appearances by other characters, she is the
    film. And what a character she is. Sweet and adorable yet… well its
    best to watch the film.

    There were a couple of things that could have done with a bit more
    explanation, but no film is perfect.

    I for one will certainly be on the lookout for Lauren Ashley Carter in
    the future.

  • CinemaClownJuly 19, 2016Reply

    A Tedious, Overambitious & Convoluted Mess

    Shot in black n white, arranged in non-chronological order, and
    evidently influenced by Roman Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy (especially
    Repulsion), there is no denying that Darling is a stylishly directed
    feature but in its overambitious attempt to homage the notable horror
    classic, it ends up becoming an overbearing & convoluted mess.

    Set in New York, the story of Darling follows an unnamed young woman
    who agrees to house sit at a large mansion that appears to have a
    notorious past. With nothing to do & unable to kill time, she begins to
    lose her grasp on reality as the extended exposure to the isolation
    that abounds the empty mansion triggers her descent into madness.

    Written & directed by Mickey Keating, Darling is his tribute to the
    atmospheric chillers of the 1960s but the film lacks an identity of its
    own. Throughout its 78 minutes runtime, it applies tricks such as
    sporadically cutting to maniacal frames, screeching noises for its
    score & mindless meandering but all its intricacy lies only on the
    surface, for it is hollow from the inside.

    The monochrome filters, confined setting & clever use of camera do
    manage to bring an unsettling element into the picture but the
    narrative is simply out of focus and fails to capitalise on that. The
    only one who is actually able to redeem something out of this whole
    clutter is Lauren Ashley Carter who tries her best to make her
    character work and chips in with a violent performance.

    On an overall scale, Darling finds its filmmaker succeeding at
    replicating the look of Repulsion but he is unable to add the same
    level of thematic depth which turned that psychological horror into a
    genre classic. Deficient in numerous storytelling aspects & pretending
    to be something it isn’t, this artistic endeavour bounces all over the
    place yet in the end, finds itself not far from where it started. Skip
    it.

  • trashgangJuly 27, 2016Reply

    shot in Black and White, worth seeing

    This is the kind of love or hate flicks because it’s a slow mover and
    not that much is happening but it do has the love or hate arty gravy.

    Being shot in black and white this is already a reason for many to turn
    it off but for me that’s a reason to keep watching because the red
    stuff looks more darker in black and white. But there isn’t that many
    red stuff to catch so it’s the story that must do it.

    And the story is simple, a haunted house, a new caretaker, an new
    possession and an victim. Excellent performed by Lauren Ashley Carter
    who I have seen in a few horrors before. Is this a horror, well, it’s
    not scary and it doesn’t offer the creeps but it is still worth seeing.
    After watching another James Wan flick about ghosting and possessions I
    must say that this here attracted me more then the over-hyped Conjuring
    2. Of course youth will not see this at any change and if they do they
    I guess would be more scared then the usual teenage horror.

    The horror lays in the fact that a body has to disappear so a hammer
    and saw is used and that is the most gruesome part especially the tooth
    part.

    Worth picking up if you are into horror just for that particular scene,
    and clocking in at 77 makes it easy to watch

    Gore 1/5 Nudity 0,5/5 Effects 1/5 Story 3/5 Comedy 0/5

  • Mr_EctoplasmaAugust 5, 2016Reply

    What’s behind door number one?

    ”Darling” follows an out-of-touch young woman who gets a job house
    sitting in a large New York mansion that is reputed to be
    haunted—that’s about all I can say without ruining the rest of the
    film, as it really is that paper-thinly plotted.

    Writer/director Mickey Keating seems to be a serious film student, as
    the movie is entirely based on Polanski’s ”Repulsion,” and has shades
    of ”The Shining” and ”Diabolique” worn on its shoulder at all times.
    This is perhaps the most frustrating thing about it—the fact that it
    lacks its own identity.

    The film is nicely shot and has some great closeups which are
    accentuated by the black-and-white cinematography, and the setting has
    an off-kilter, claustrophobic vibe that is more or less effective; I
    did, however, find the flashy jump-cuts and strobe effects to be
    overwrought. Lauren Ashley Carter plays the lead of the picture, and
    even looks like Catherine Deneuve; her performance is solid, while
    Brian Morvant plays a male counterpart who takes on a vital role in the
    proceedings. The film has a downbeat ending at its 76 minute running
    time, but it’s a conclusion that seems apparent from the opening scene.

    Overall, ”Darling,” though a technically well-made film, lacks bite
    because it seems too preoccupied with paying homage. A meatier film
    could have gotten away with this, but the narrative here is far too
    basic and skeletal to offset a cache of cross-references. The result is
    stylistically effective, but unfortunately rather dull in all other
    areas. 4/10.

  • maryann_blairAugust 9, 2016Reply

    Darling Polanski

    I liked this movie and I think others will also. This reminded me of
    Polanski’s repulsion. A black and white art house flick with a twilight
    zone feel to it. This blurs the line between mental deterioration
    nightmare’s and reality. Lauren Ashely Carter was top notch maintaining
    an innocent look even when she’s doing something wrong. This film takes
    me back to a different time. It also sends off a different feel to it.
    You get a little Hitchcock mixed with a lot of Polanski. I wonder if
    they used the infamous Hershey Syrup as blood? If anyone knows please
    let me know, being black and white one cannot tell. Mickey Keating
    might be going places. This is a good way to spend 78min. You won’t
    regret it!

  • jtncsmistadAugust 24, 2016Reply

    Too much borrowed, not enough new, in ”Darling”.

    Talk about a movie that tests your patience. Well, that’s sure as hell
    not the recently released, exceedingly atmospheric horror flick
    ”Darling”. No, your patience won’t be tested……because it’ll
    flippin’ be TORTURED all to shreds! Good GOLLY does it take an ETERNITY
    for anything to happen in this thing. And then when it FINALLY does,
    you’re like, ”All that interminable build-up to THIS???”

    Writer/Director/Co-Producer Mickey Keating clearly is trying to evoke
    the feel of late ’50’s/early ’60’s Hitchcockian suspense as his black
    and white film lens depicts present-day New York City, together with
    the story’s main characters, as though what we are witnessing is
    somehow suspended in time during this bygone era. Keating also borrows
    heavily here from Roman Polanski’s ”Repulsion” and Stanley Kubrick’s
    ”The Shining” in terms of plot, structure, vibe and effect. In step
    with what is an apparent homage to the classics, Keating gives a
    grotesquely macabre nod to Audrey Hepburn in what may best be described
    as a perverse version of ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on a bad, and I do
    mean RANCIDLY bad, acid trip.

    Lauren Ashley Carter (whom Keating also directed in 2015’s equally
    offbeat horror mystery ”Pod”) does what she can in the title role. And
    she’s really pretty effective as a lonely young woman gone nuts, or
    rather even MORE wacko, as would appear to be the case in ”Darling”.
    There’s even a Sean Young sighting (remember her, kids?) as a super
    creepy matronly type name of ”Madame”. EWWW-HEW-HEW-HEW. But in the
    end, it’s all been done before.

    And enormous quantum leaps better than it’s done here, darlin’.

  • Steve RamseySeptember 5, 2016Reply

    Avant-Garde Beauty

    Like visiting The Museum of Modern Art, Darling needs to be approached
    from the right state of mind to connect with it. Its value lies more in
    how its story is told rather than the details of the narrative itself;
    a kind of filmmaking that hearkens back to expressionist films of the
    1920s. It’s exciting that micro-budget indie filmmakers are now able to
    reach audiences via steaming services and attempt these kinds of
    artistic explorations that you simply won’t see from larger
    productions, let alone Hollywood.

    The story is simple and classic: A young woman takes a job as a
    caretaker of a haunted mansion and weird things begin to happen. But
    the film only uses the narrative as means of providing us with
    familiarity while focusing our attention on its visual presentation.

    And Darling is all about the visuals; the script can’t be more than a
    few pages. Long periods pass with a single, well-composed shot creating
    a sense of wonder and uncertainty in the viewer. The choice of black &
    white cinematography allows the camera to always be in control,
    reminding us that everything we see is slightly unreal, especially when
    moments of powerful violence happen. If it were shot in color, the gore
    would have been the message and distracted us from the artistic
    statement.

    Darling is not for everyone, and horror film aficionados may be
    disappointed or consider it pretentious. And it does start off slow: it
    took the first 15 minutes for me to relax and not try to rush it.

    Lauren Ashley Carter is captivating in the lead role, appearing in
    nearly every shot. She conveys a shifting range of emotions causing me
    to feel sympathy for her seeming innocence then later repulsing me by
    her brutality. She gets the avant-garde nature of this production and
    finds the right tone in every scene.

    Look for Larry Fessenden (Habit) in a bit part toward the end.

    I recommend Darling for the vision it attempted and mostly succeeded at
    presenting us with. It’s not a typical horror film, but something to be
    watched and admired for its beauty and simplicity.

  • danielemerytaylorOctober 15, 2016Reply

    Ambitious Outing

    I can say without fear of contradiction that DARLING will not be for
    everyone. It is an art-house horror film (presented in black and white,
    no less!) with a very slow build-up and an ambiguous story. I, however,
    quite liked it. I thought the pacing was appropriately
    anxiety-inducing, it is shot BEAUTIFULLY, and Lauren Ashley Carter is
    phenomenal (every bit deserving of her cult favorite status). My one
    criticism is the score – if it isn’t stock music, it is certainly
    clichéd. It is not distracting enough to detract from the rest of the
    picture, however. If you have an open mind and are willing to take in
    something a little different from what you’re used to, check it out.

  • SquigglyCrunchNovember 5, 2016Reply

    Very Likely the Most Unnerving, Frightening Horror Film I’ve Ever Seen

    Darling follows a woman as she moves into a new house where she slowly,
    and violently, goes insane.

    I watched this movie on Hallowe’en night, unsure exactly what I was
    getting into. I’d been curious about it, but never did I expect this.

    Let’s start with the performances. They’re good. The supporting cast is
    fine, but nothing to write home about. The shining star in all this is
    the leading actress, Lauren Ashley Carter. Right from her opening scene
    she was fantastic. The way she delivers dialogue in particular was
    great, and although she didn’t talk much, watching her perform was a
    treat.

    The story itself is subtle and engaging. There’s a level of mystery
    that surrounds the entire atmosphere of the film. Not only that, but
    the character of Darling herself is very interesting. As the movie
    progresses you as the audience begins to realize that this isn’t the
    beginning of this woman’s struggles, but rather a continuation. It’s
    clear that Darling has had a troubled past, and the series of new
    events unfolding before her in her new home set her mind off in the
    direction it seemed to have been heading already. Not only that, but
    Darling acts similarly to a real person in her situation. She begins to
    fear herself and what she’s becomes, and expresses that in scenes that
    are both very powerful and a little on the hard side to watch.

    Now, let’s get into the most effective aspect of the film: the horror.
    This is an unnerving and genuinely frightening movie, and I don’t say
    that often. I’ve been unsettled by a few horror films, but Darling
    takes the cake for being actually scary. The movie briefly shows images
    and scenes that are assumed to be Darling’s thoughts, and while some
    people would call this a cheap horror gimmick, I say otherwise. The
    imagery shown is often somewhat unnerving and vague, and only
    processing each image for a short second just adds to that. No, they
    aren’t jump scares, there isn’t a loud sound to go along with each one,
    nor are they all that sudden. They become a regular occurrence, but the
    director Mickey Keating knows exactly when to use each one.
    Furthermore, there are a handful of scenes that are just plain hard to
    watch, made all the more effective by the character we have now come to
    care for. It’s a movie you have to see for yourself, but trust me,
    there are some genuinely unnerving scenes, one in particular involving
    a bathtub.

    Overall Darling is not only horrifying but also well-acted and well-
    written, with an interesting story and great characters. In the end I’d
    definitely recommend this movie.

  • octopusquidDecember 26, 2016Reply

    No

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • Nigel PJanuary 4, 2017Reply

    Spoilers follow …

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • Phil TennantFebruary 15, 2017Reply

    Pretentious Claptrap

    Firstly, I would not class this movie as horror, more a Psycho
    Thriller. The fact that it takes place in an allegedly haunted house,
    (which is set out for us very clearly by the home owner right at the
    beginning of the movie, and we are then reminded of this half way
    through by another character, in case we have forgotten.) seems
    incidental.

    My ”Pretension Alarm” started ringing straight away, and there were
    several reasons.

    1) Filmed in black and white. Not necessarily a bad thing, look at
    Carnival of Souls among others. Here it just serves to amplify the
    dullness of the story. 2) Separated into ”Chapters”. As there is no
    real change in the story, or jumping to a different location, or even a
    change of scene sometimes, this seems superfluous. Perhaps they are
    trying to fool us into thinking we are watching something intelligent
    by reminding us of books. 3)Throughout several scenes there is French
    music playing in the background, á la Edith Piaf. Although the location
    is never detailed, apart from a brief glimpse at a characters driving
    licence, it looks like 1960’s New York. So why French music? It does
    nothing but detract from what little action is going on. 4)Constant
    (and I mean A LOT) of cut away shots of the girl staring into the
    camera from varying distances, with various expressions (Although not
    that varied) inter-cut with flashes of screaming faces, while
    discordant music screeches in the background. 5)Very little dialogue. A
    lot of the time is taken with the girl alone in the house walking
    around, so the lack of dialogue is unsurprising, but most of what is
    included is painfully clumsy, so this is probably a plus. 6)The ending
    is predictable within the first 5 minutes of the movie.

    I could sum up the plot of this film in three sentences, and would
    probably have a sentence to spare, and still not be missing anything
    out. But no spoilers…

    As you can tell, not a fan of this one, it tries so hard to be artful
    and avant-garde, but is just Pretentious Claptrap.

  • whineycracker2000March 1, 2017Reply

    Disappointing

    Right off the bat, Mickey Keating’s latest film Darling shows real
    promise. For starters, it is visually stunning: the lighting, set
    design and black and white cinematography (while imitative) are truly
    impressive. His shot compositions even of New York City even rival
    Woody Allen’s famous, yet overrated opening of ”Manhattan”). It’s
    undeniable that Keating and company know their craft pretty well, and
    that has to be applauded. However, the overall end product is lacking
    in many crucial areas for me, particularly its narrative trajectory and
    plot, which borrow heavily (I use that word kindly) from early
    Polanski’s ”Apartment Trilogy”,among other films in the ”female losing
    grip on reality” (i.e. Carnival of Souls) subgenre. Obviously, anybody
    who has been schooled in these films can clearly see that
    Keating’seffort is really just a modern, pimped-out mashup, but with a
    pretentious, student film-like executionthat lacks a unique vision or a
    genuine exploration into the pathology of it’s lead character. In other
    words, Darling looks great, but gives audiences very little to process.

    I could have forgiven the film’s plagiaristic nature if it had
    something authentic, unique, or timely to say about its hinted-at
    themes of isolation, female sexual repression, mental illness, urban
    alienation, or anything for that matter -but it doesn’t. The film is an
    exercise in style and, well, literally nothing else. I am not convinced
    Keating has any idea who his main character is, or truly even cares;
    she is merely a prop (admittedly a very lovely one). Instead of giving
    audiences any type of backstory, Keating relies on the now-exhausted
    ”descent into madness” theme; borrowing heavily from 1980’s The
    Shining’s exploration of the murky area between mental and metaphysical
    chaos. However, here this approach is really just used as lazy devices
    to demonstrate Keating’s technical virtuosity, while allowing him to
    revel in his giddiness over the entire filmmaking process. However, the
    filmmaker’s ego ultimately compromises the integrity of the film,
    rendering it a hollow shell devoid of meaningful content.

    In addition to its shallow and derivative vibe, Keating’s film is
    hampered by a seriously flawed and unconvincing portrayal of Darling
    herself, played by the purportedly budding indie ”star” Lauren Ashley
    Carter. Without beating around the bush, I can only say that Carter’s
    performance simply belies any credibility and comes across as wooden,
    self-aware, and curiously arrogant. I couldn’t help but imagine her
    trying to stay in character, while making a valiant attempt to adhere
    to Keating’s rigid physical instructions, with a ”step-by-step”
    dutifulness (literally, it seemed like she was walking an invisible
    tightrope the whole time). Watching her, I got the sense that Keating
    was directing her based on shot construction and lighting schemes
    rather than character development or story advancement.

    While throwbacks have become a dime a dozen these days, few recent
    filmmakers seem to pay proper respect to their original source
    material. One recent exception, Ty West’s ”House of the Devil”, is a
    great example of such a tribute-film done well; in large part because
    it maintains its own voice and sensibility, despite its heavy nostalgia
    factor. Rather than a knock-off, West’s film serves as a genuine,
    from-the-heart homage that doesn’t take itself too seriously, while
    still being a highly sophisticated production that tells a story.
    West’s film knows what it wants to be and pulls it off: a sentimental
    nod to a time period that was a golden age for low-budget American
    horror cinema. Unlike Darling, it also profits from the likability,
    naturalism, and relatability of its main character played wonderfully
    by Jocelin Donahue (her character is also given very little back story,
    but she brings infinitely more depth and conviction to the film than
    Carter. While both films end on shocking and unexpected notes, West’s
    finale is not so ambiguous as to leave audiences scratching their
    heads. The pervasiveness of this type of forced ambiguity is one of the
    many ways in which Darling misses the mark.

    After watching Keating’s film I was compelled to go back and re-visit
    the films that clearly inspired it. Watching Catherine Deneuve in
    ”Repulsion”, Candace Hilligoss in ”Carnival of Souls”, or more
    recently, Angela Betis in 2002’s underrated ”May”- and I couldn’t deny
    the undeniably stark contrast between the craft of those memorable
    performances and Carter’s here. It became clearer to me that there
    simply is no subtlety or nuance in Carter’s performance or Keating’s
    film as a whole. Alas, Darling completely lacks the particular
    combination of ingredients that made its progenitors so enduringly
    effective. In the end, Keating’s film is just a series of random shots
    and jarring noise that are devoid of context or purpose.

    It’s really too bad, because as mentioned earlier, Darling is a visual
    feast; and given a more original script, clarity of purpose, and
    effective lead, it might have been something truly inspired and
    influential in its own right.

  • thelastblogontheleftMarch 15, 2017Reply

    Pretentious

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • VictorEchoThreeUNDMay 3, 2017Reply

    Definitely not a waste of time, tense, beautiful,but no surprises.

    Be careful reading the reviews on this one, I watched this with the
    advantage of having never seen ‘repulsion’ and it must be said I seldom
    if ever watch a movie in black and white especially if modern.

    Having said that I’m an avid Horror fan and taken at face value the
    movie delivers quite well. It is slow, (ie: at times bludgeoningly so)
    but is very atmospheric. The wife and I both watched it all the way
    thru which says much as we often will gong movies before the halfway
    point (mutually.

    Desperately striving to match movies of a bygone era it does not always
    fall short, a good watch, probably more-so alone at night and during a
    distant storm…

    There is an additional scene midway thru end credits don’t forget to
    stay that long if you make it to the end.

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