Review by Jonathan Godfrey for Mr. Will Wong
Horror is an ingenious genre. Story and scares on a small budget means only the creative can thrive. Mickey Keating is such a creator. Over the last few years he’s crafted great works like Ritual and Pod. He’s an indie darling, and his latest work is equally so. Darling stars Lauren Ashley Carter, who previously worked with Keating on Pod. Like its predecessor, Darling was fawned over by fans at SXSW, and beloved by the big names in Horror. This is with good reason. Darling is quite the contemporary masterpiece. It’s absolutely terrifying.
Shot in black and white, the Film follows Darling (Carter) as she endeavours to be the caretaker of a stark urban brownstone. She’s warned that the previous caretaker leapt to his death off of the balcony by Madame (Sean Young). Darling, unaffected, goes about her duties.
Almost instantaneously a presence makes itself known. Not overtly, not like a hulking mass in a Slasher Film. No, the presence is behind closed doors, the only one that Darling has no key for. It’s no more than a light under a locked door, but it’s nevertheless unsettling. It leads the film to stutter and flash through frightening frames. The tension builds. Darling sees herself afflicted, and she broods over ideas of revenge. Keating tasks Carter to express herself more than speak, and express she does. Each chapter sees her descending into madness, and the descent is convincing.
Keating’s audio/visual team from Pod also return to help him shape and define Darling. The cinematography is excellent. Shots are framed well, and the editor plays with them brilliantly. The way things move across the screen becomes as captivating as it is chilling. In addition, the sound mixing is skillful. The scares are aided by the noises of occult mumblings and screeching instruments. And they’re prefixed by chapter headings with colorful fonts. Darling is the result of talented people who work together well. It’s mesmerizing… and as it was posited in the introduction, it’s absolutely terrifying.
Horror is a genre that demands effort in discovering its gems. Festivals, fan magazines, and friends are our means of digging through the dirt to get to the good stuff. Darling is the good stuff, and every aid available is uncovering this truth. Do the same and see it if the chance arises. White knuckles and nightmares come as an added bonus.
levelFILM release DARLING Friday, April 1, 2016.