21 October 2016



'Perfect... Madness has never looked so beautiful.'

So says THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER of the film we're going to look at now. I couldn't agree more. I don't normally quote other critics in my reviews (why give them the coverage, haha...?) but they've certainly come up with le mot juste in this case.

DARLING is a visually gorgeous, stark scary black-and-white modern horror movie created in the style of some of your favourite old classic horror flicks. I had great fun playing 'spot the horror film tribute' all the way through the film. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if DARLING itself became a classic in its own right as it certainly has all the hallmarks.

A beautiful young woman with the lovely real-life name of Lauren Ashley Carter is the star of the film and almost the only person we see throughout, with a couple of exceptions. She has shoulder-length dark hair and the biggest, darkest most luminous eyes you've ever seen, so dark they almost look black. She could easily play Little Red Riding Hood with her glossy black hair and huge expressive peepers, haha.

Anyway, this lady has no name in the film, but as she's referred to as 'Darling' on the phone in the movie, I see no harm in calling her that. It suits her anyway, with her dinky little old-fashioned dresses and her flicked-up hair and her otherwordly but also somehow sophisticated looks. So, 'Darling' it is then, yeah...?

This psychological horror film is set in New York. Darling is a lonely-seeming young woman who agrees to do a spot of house-sitting for a glamorous but rather sinister older lady. This older woman makes a point of 'letting it slip' (yeah, my butt!) that the previous female caretaker went a bit insane in the membrane while babysitting the fabulous old mansion and topped herself by taking a nose-dive off the upstairs balcony. Then she's all, like: 'Well, goodbye then...!,' leaving an unnerved Darling alone in the huge old house...

The house is magnificent. Beautiful old furniture, spacious rooms, narrow corridors and miles and miles of winding staircases, as well as the obligatory locked room with a light shining out from underneath it. A locked room, moreover, that the older woman has told Darling must remain locked at all costs. Well sure, that wouldn't unnerve you at all, would it, hearing a thing like that...?

It's clear to the viewer that the house is evil. Darling doesn't seem to have brought any books or a laptop or a personal CD player with her so she has nothing to do except sit around quietly all day letting the house work its obviously black magic on her. Then one day, she rather inexplicably gets all dolled up, goes out to a nearby bar and picks up a nice little playmate for herself...

The music and special sound effects are excellent and eerie. The scenes in the bathhroom and then later in the bedroom involving the 'occupant' of the bathroom are just pure undiluted horror. Ms. Carter, a charming brunette, is a terrific actress and has a face made for horror. And that's a compliment, by the way, meaning her face is brilliantly expressive. It's not like when someone tells you that you have a great face for radio...!

The films that DARLING made me think of are THE SHINING, ROSEMARY'S BABY (possibly the best horror film ever made set in one of those magnificent and huge old mansion-type buildings), PSYCHO, CARNIVAL OF SOULS and any horror film ever made in which there's a locked room to which the tenant doesn't have access, for example, like BURNT OFFERINGS or THE LAST HOUSE ON CEMETERY LANE, the latter being a great new-ish film I watched for the first time recently. Maybe you guys can spot a few more...!

Henry has a very Ted Bundy-ish vibe about him, by the way, which I found kinda funny, and one of the scenes, whether the film-makers realise it or not, is straight out of one of the best ever episodes of hit HBO Mafia drama, THE SOPRANOS. 

Remember when Tony finds out that Ralphie was responsible for the death of his beloved race-horse, Pie-O-My? I don't know what it says about the Mafia that Ralphie gets off scot-free for killing one of the Bada Bing's dancers but when he touches a hair on Tony's horse's head, well then, it's time for the fuppin' concrete overcoat and sleeping with the fishes...! 

Anyway, I won't say in what way DARLING reminded me of Tony and Ralphie but you'll see for yourself when you watch the film.

DARLING is out on UK DVD release on 24th October 2016, courtesy of SODA PICTURES (a THUNDERBIRD company). It comes complete with an exclusive reversible sleeve and no fewer than three featurettes, one of which is called CASTING THE HOUSE, which sounds like it would be well worth a watch. DARLING itself is infinitely watchable.

And I probably shouldn't be telling you this, my darlings, but I can't help letting it slip that the last person to watch it went completely out of her mind...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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