question about it, the most dangerous gig in genre cinema is house-sitting.
Take for instance this tony brownstone townhouse in Lower Manhattan. The last
caretaker committed suicide, plunging head first off the balcony. It has given
the stately home a bit of a reputation. However, the new house-sitter might be
carrying her on bad vibes as baggage in Mickey Keating’s Darling (trailer
opens tomorrow in New York.
not worry about anything you might have heard, her lady-who-lunches boss tells
her, before leaving for the season. “Madame” thinks she is lucky to get “Darling”
at so short notice, but there might be a reason the skittish young woman was so
super-available. At least, she is not likely to throw loud parties. We soon see
she is much more inclined to go quietly crazy instead.
the Dakota in Rosemary’s Baby (a
clear touchstone for Keating), there seems to be something palpably off about
this building. The mysterious appearance of an upside-down cross pendant and a
heavy looking Latin invocation scratched near the head of Darling’s bed
certainly raise our suspicions. The mysterious locked room would seem to be a
clincher. However, we should question the validity of everything we see through
Darling wears its Repulsion influences on its sleeve, but
the extra, added demonic elements, a la Rosemary,
keep viewers completely off balance and thoroughly creeped out. We are
keenly aware both the caretaker and the property have big, messy backstories,
but we only get suggestive glimpses of either. Mac Fisken’s severely stylish
black-and-white cinematography puts us in the right mind space, making the
surroundings look beautiful in an icily hostile kind of way.
Ashley Carter must have the widest eyes in the business, eclipsing even Amanda
Seyfried, but that is perfect for Darling.
One minute we think we are looking into the doey eyes of an innocent naïf, but
seconds later we are squirming under the piercing stare of a likely psychopath—except
maybe not. Somehow, Carter and Keating manage to maintain the uncertainty nearly
the entire film (an admittedly brief seventy-eight minutes). Likewise, Brian
Morvant is ambiguously destabilizing but always eerily effective in context as
either her tormentor or victim. Of course, as a Glass Eye Pix production, there
is also a Larry Fessenden cameo to look forward to.
Although the protagonist rarely steps outside of
the sinister building, Darling is
still a very New York film, sharing a kinship with documentaries like The Wolf Pack. A lot of weird stuff goes
on in close proximity to us here, but behind closed doors. Indeed, there is
nothing really forcing her to stay, yet she does anyway. After unloading both barrels
into Keating’s Carnage Park, it is
nice to be able to call out Darling’s
considerable merits. (Seriously, Pat Healy’s character is still deeply
offensive.) Highly accomplished and deeply unsettling, in the right way, Darling is definitely recommended for
discerning horror fans when it opens this Friday (4/1) in New York, at the
Labels: Horror Movies, Larry Fessenden, Mickey Keating