Darling

Darling

Darling

2015. Directed by Mickey Keating. 

An homage to Polanski's Repulsion and Catherine Deneuve's harrowing performance within it, Darling is a horror film that rests entirely on the shoulders of single actress in virtually one location.

Darling accepts a job as the caretaker for a spooky New York home.  Left alone, she begins to experience various supernatural phenomena that are tied to the house's disturbing history.  Told in six chapters, Darling chronicles a woman's descent into madness that may or may not be caused by forces from beyond and it's utterly creepy. 

This is a minimalist horror film that does a lot with virtually nothing.  Shot in dizzying black and white by Mac Fisken, the narrative is basic.  Girl enters house.  Girls goes mad and kills people.  Things devolve from there.   The really interesting part about this one is how Keating is clearly paying tribute to the greats while also doing his own things.  There's elements of many cult classics at work, but Darling is a self contained package in it's own style.

Lauren Ashley Carter (from Jug Face) is splendid.  She totally commits to the role and you can feel it in virtually every scene.  It's absolutely amazing how she can communicate panic, dread, and malevolence from one minute to the next.  Like the film itself, she uses the performances of titans like Denueve as inspiration and then goes from there.   Some of her facial expressions are so chilling that they will stick with you long after your viewing.  

One of the best parts of the film is that it's quiet.  There are outbursts of violence and horror, but it's the quiet between the ticks that gets you here.  It's not about jump scares and gimmicks, almost everything, aside from one locked room, is out in the open.  The mental demolition of Darling is on full display, as are the "ghosts" that haunt every chamber of the house.  The crescendo finale is the only overwhelming part, but it's a release from the 70+ minutes of quiet agony that precede it.  

Available on Netflix, Darling is an indie gem that is a great choice if you're looking for a horror film that doesn't aim to shock you up front.  It's mission is far more insidious.  Darling sets up the game and the rules very quickly and then slowly takes you on a journey of mental decay.   Whether there are or are not supernatural elements at play is part of the fun and if low grade horror is your bag, this is a film for you.   

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