Review: ‘Darling,’ a Horror Outing

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Using the simplest of settings — and familiar genre devices — Mickey Keating’s horror outing “Darling” manages to conjure an effectively unsettling miasma. The story borrows from the Polanski playbook (particularly “Repulsion” and “The Tenant”): A young woman, Darling (Lauren Ashley Carter), accepts an assignment from a wealthy matron (Sean Young) to mind an upscale Manhattan apartment, only to unravel into a homicidal psychopath. A previous employee committed suicide while performing the same work, so perhaps the apartment itself exerts a malevolent force.

“Repulsion” had an arresting feminist subtext, in which the persistent onslaught of the male gaze drove Catherine Deneuve over the edge; “Darling” doesn’t bother with such commentary (though there is a hapless male victim, played by Brian Morvant). Darling merely has had a hidden history of mental illness — and maybe a bad relationship.

Out come the time-honored trappings: the carving knife; a soundtrack alternating among ambient Lynchian strains, cheesy pop numbers and snatches of hard-core rock; lightning-fast shock cuts in the editing, including glimpses of dismemberment. But also present are impressive performances, especially a compellingly mercurial turn by the horror veteran Ms. Carter (a star of Mr. Keating’s “Pod” and Lucky McKee’s “The Woman”). Another invaluable asset is the director’s frequent cinematographer, Mac Fisken, whose gorgeous, haunting black-and-white compositions enlist the Manhattan cityscape as one more threatening entity.

Click HERE for the New York Times article.