Director: Mickey Keating
Writer: Mickey Keating
Hey, you. Yeah, you. You looking for a house to sit? Good. My house is haunted and I’ll be gone for a while. I’ll need someone to come watch the place while I am out. Actually, I don’t need a housesitter -- but Sean Young who plays Madam does, and it turns out she has hired Lauren Ashley Carter to play the titular housesitter Darling. To add to this, we've also got Brian Morvant playing The Man, Larry Fessenden playing Officer Maneretti and John Speredakos playing Officer Clayton. Lastly, we have Al-Nisa Petty playing Miss Hill, and Helen Rogers playing the New Girl.
Darling is about a girl named Darling who is being hired to housesit for a supposedly haunted mansion. As the movie goes on, we find out that there is a door that is locked and there is no key for it, and that this door must stay shut. Throughout the movie Darling starts to have what seems to be hallucinations or flashbacks of some sort, which eventually drive her crazy.
My main problem with this movie seems to be what most other people like about this movie. This whole movie is a love letter to Roman Polanski. It’s completely obvious, and is not too subtle if you’ve seen the movies this director is obviously inspired by. I normally would not have a problem with this, but there are some iconic things that Polanski did in his works that this film tried to recreate, and could not achieve the same effect.The style of this film, combined with the just the plot and sequence of events was enough to make me think, ‘oh hey, this is just Repulsion by Roman Polanski.’ At some points it also seemed like they were trying too hard to be artsy, such as some shots that seemed kind of pointless and went on a bit longer than needed. I can kind of see why they would do that (for example, to signify the loss of sanity,) but I felt they could have done it a little differently and less assertively.
On that topic, I had a slight problem with some of the recreations of the Polanski bits. (For instance, the hallucinations being reminiscent of Repulsion.) Although I felt this way about these inspirations to the point of seeming like a blatant ripoff, with the risk of contradicting myself -- I felt it did eventually sort of work for this movie. I just feel they should have eased the viewers a bit into the hallucinations, and had them come more frequently through the movie to slowly get inside her head and feel the insanity. At first when they flash across the screen it does not seem to phase Darling. With a more gradual approach the viewers wouldn’t be left wondering ‘what’s going on?’ Given how disjointed and artsy this could get, I was worried the film wouldn’t wrap up any questions before the end.
This movie was pretty slow-moving, which I personally don’t have a problem with, but once things started speeding up it got to be a bit more interesting. To add to that, things get awfully graphic, so this movie has that in it’s defense. I also really like how it is told in chapters, and in each chapter things are slightly more crazy and things just get worse throughout. I also like how that this movie answers most questions, but leaves some things to the imagination. It isn’t quite clear by the end if she is losing her mind, or if it’s the work of this house. If she is actually crazy and these things did happen, then I feel the fact of the mansion being haunted is pointless to have. I think the fact that they have the two variables is to leave room for interpretation. I tend to really enjoy when movies are open for speculation, as they are great to watch with friends and discuss theories. I do also like the black-and-white style it is done in, but I kind of wish they added some grain and grit to the footage. Of course, that’s just a very minor thing.
By the end, things did start to get quite interesting and I was curious to see how my questions would be answered. Despite stylistic disagreements, this movie did have me invested to see where these things were going. Not all is answered, which gives this movie a bonus point because where a lot of horror movies tend to go wrong is when it comes to over-explaining.
I had watched this movie while housesitting a pretty large house, as I thought it might creep me out a bit more in this setting, but I feel it did not add to the effect at all. What’s a bit unique about the film’s effect though, is that I was initially not a big fan of this movie and would have given it a 3/10. After listing out my likes and dislikes I start to really think about and appreciate this movie, and remember some parts. This is definitely a movie where the more you pick it apart, the more you start to find interest in it. I will have to give this movie 5 showering Darlings out of 10.