11 April 2016 | lauralmhs
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.