director Mickey Keating
Mickey Keating’s throwback psychological horror film is steeped deeply in homage (most notably to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965)), but it also works as a terrific showcase of actor Lauren Ashley Carter, the unnamed “Darling” of Darling. Carter is the Catherine Deneuve of Darling, a young woman trapped by her own psychosis in a big city, losing her shit, and killing a would-be suitor, though in this case with considerably more gore.
Carter is more than up to the task. She co-starred in Keating’s Pod (2015) and compels throughout Darling with all the focus on her. She comes to be caretaker in one of the oldest homes in New York City, one with a slightly sinister past in which her predecessor jumped to her death. It doesn’t take long for the spiral to begin.
Shot in black-and-white with weird pulsing strobes, Keating’s film is stylish and good-looking. Some of the shots of New York capture the cold beauty and isolation within the massive city. While the film plays coy with the issues of psychology versus haunting or possession, really the ultimate short-coming is in Keating’s hewing to homage and shirking creating something utterly new and fresh. The film winds up limited in this.
Carter is an excellent actress, a true horror fan, indie performer, would-be scream queen. I’ve read that she’s broke and planning to quit acting and head back to graduate school, which may be the best thing for her personally, but would be a shame for what she could do. She’s very, very good.