So let's get this party started. I'd been hearing good things about Mickey Keating's new indie horror Darling, so when it hit The Carlton downtown for a week-long run, I made sure to catch it.
When Darling (Lauren Ashley Carter) gets a job as caretaker of one of New York City's oldest houses, she begins a rapid descent into madness.
I'm sad to say that Darling was a huge disappointment. I really wanted to like this movie, but it was as if the director was actively trying to keep that from happening. I don't fault him for making a minimalist hybrid of Roman Polanski's Repulsion and The Shining, but it's just not that interesting. If you're going to ape your influences that closely, you have to bring something new to the table.
However, the bigger problem was the frustrating contrast between the old school pace and aesthetic and the modern (and so so tired) editing. Anytime there was any kind of tension built, it'd be crushed under music video style flashes and cutaways. It was like Keating didn't have the confidence to let his visuals and actress speak for themselves, so he shoehorned in all this unnecessary bullshit.
The tragedy is that both of those things are great, as cinematographer Mac Fiskin shoots the shit out of that sterile brownstone and Carter is one-hundred per cent invested in her character's downward spiral. Man, has she ever got the eyes for black and white! If Keating had just gone for straight-up homage, I would have at least appreciated it as a vanity piece.
|Lauren Ashley Carter in Darling|
I just wish there was more to this film. The story was incredibly elusive, as there was a possession thread that's never fully explored – actually I'm not even sure I'd have even picked up on it without the chapter title cards – and the only other character Darling really interacted with was shown as a threat only by way of bizarre audio cues. I get they were supposed to be externalizing her point of view, but holy hell was it distracting. I wasn't kidding when I said Keating was working his hardest to annoy me, as every single time I found something to latch onto, he'd cancel it out with something cheap.
It really makes you wonder why the horror community latches onto some titles, and not others. I mean, I can see why Glass Eye Pix produced this, as Darling is totally their bag, but there are some fans out there who preach that this was some revelatory piece of art. My recommendation is just to go back and re-watch Replusion. It's waaay better and you also don't have to worry about having a seizure.