Review of “Darling”
Written and directed by: Mickey Keating
Run time: 78 minutes
Most of my favorite horror films, of the last few years, are what you could call “Artfully ambiguous”. See, I love all kinds of horror but my favorites are more unnerving and eerie than they are gory and full of jump scares. Don’t get me wrong, I can dig a good jump scare and gore certainly has it’s place in some of the greatest films of the genre. I just like my brain to have to work a bit to be scared. I don’t want answers spoon fed to me… in fact I sometimes enjoy it if there are no answers whatsoever. Mood, atmosphere, uncertainty… these are the things that, done the right way, frighten me. “The Babadook”, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” and “The Witch” all had nerve destroying tension that was constructed on isolation and shadowy mind games. Well, add Mickey Keating’s “Darling” to that list.
Lauren Ashley Carter gives an incredible performance as a young, unnamed woman that we only know as “Darling”. She is invited, as a caretaker, into the home of “Madame” (Sean Young) and told that the previous caretaker died after jumping from the balcony. When she discovers a mysterious locked door, things begin to go bump at night, and Darling begins her descent into madness. To tell you more about the plot would be to spoil what I feel is a genre masterpiece (and I do not use that word lightly).
Let’s go over why I feel that way though. First and foremost is miss Carter. Everything about her performance is perfect. She goes from timid, to wary, to terrified, to raging lunatic and it… is… awesome! I hope with all of my heart that she continues to work as Keating’s muse and forges a scream queen type of career for herself. Keating is also masterful in his work here as writer, director, and producer. The film is heavily stylized from it’s beautiful black and white cinematography to the hallucinatory jump shots of Darling screaming or soaked in blood. The score also lends a helping hand to the ever-present paranoia of Keating’s film. The unsettling feeling of the house which may or may not be driving Darling mad is present in every frame of the movie, which is quite an accomplishment.
Some people will be put off by Darling’s ambiguity and slow burn pace (if you can call a movie that’s only 78 minutes long a “Slow burn”). It didn’t bother me one bit. In fact, I liked every minute of “Darling” and I am willing to bet that, if you regularly read my reviews, you will too. It is a strong entry into the genre, in a year that looks like it will be remembered for such films.