Writer-director Mickey Keating’s Darling is an impressive little psychological horror/thriller with a lot to recommend. Shot in stark black and white, Keating’s 2015 thriller has been compared to Hitchcock and early Polanski, however I feel that the film is closest to Robert Altman’s long forgotten 1969 release, A Cold Day In The Park. Like Darling, Altman’s film is another dialogue-lite, apartment bound thriller with an unhinged female protagonist.
Lauren Ashley Carter is Darling, a house-sitter in an impressive, though eerie New York apartment. Darling spends each day in the quiet building and soon its oppressive atmosphere begins to affect her mental health with lethal consequences.
Mac Fisken’s black and white photography really adds texture to the digital imagery, while some strong sonic ticks and editing tricks gives Darling a truly uneasy feeling. It’s a well constructed little film, clocking-in at only 73 minutes. Carter gives a great performance, virtually holding the screen on her own for the film’s running time. Sean Young and Brian Morvant also put in appearances but Carter does all the heavy lifting with a very complex role. Darling is divided up into six chapters (Her, Invocation, Thrills, Demon, Inferno and The Caretaker) and each once shows a disintegration of the character’s fragile mental state as the film moves towards its climax.
Darling may have its origins in older movies, but that’s okay. It’s good to see filmmakers like Mike Keating looking back and creating something with a touch of class. He clearly knows his film history, and that’s worth a lot of respect and goodwill. It might veer a touch close to being a pastiche (or even worse, a hipster homage), but it holds true in what it wants to achieve and this makes Darling a quirky curiosity that’s worth checking out!