Darling / Blackwater

After writing about my Black Mirror: Bandersnatch experience, it's been hard to motivate myself to write another review. That movie took me on such a psychedelic and mentally terrifying journey that I felt nothing would ever be able match. The idea that the only direction to go from here is down, coupled with the fact that nearly nobody bothers to read my reviews in the first place, I considered throwing in the towel. But here I am... back with another review. You're welcome?

Before Bandersnatch, one of my favorite horror movies watched high was a little gem called The Eyes of My Mother - an effective slow-burn arthouse flick shot in black & white. Those that read that review know that I typically don't gravitate toward black & white films. But that movie opened my eyes to the beauty of black and white and motivated me to immediately sought after another. I stumbled on Darling and was hopeful that it would deliver a similar experience. Darling is the brainchild of director Mickey Keating (Ritual, Psychopaths) who's past efforts prove he's no stranger to the horror genre. Truth be told, I was unfamiliar with his work prior to Darling. But a black and white horror movie is what I was in search for, so this seemed like a good enough reason to see what this director is capable of.

Darling stars Lauren Ashley Carter (Jug Face, Premium Rush) in the title role as a young woman hired by a wealthy madame to care for her old Manhattan mansion. But the madam, played by Sean Young (Blade Runner, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) and her estate hide dark secrets. The previous caretaker even mysteriously died in an accidental suicide. But despite the rumors of occult rituals, hauntings, and death, Darling wasn't swayed and accepted the job.

I had just picked up some new strains I was excited to sample including Cherry Kola and Miss USA, but reached for Blackwater. Blackwater will always hold a special spot since it was that strain and the movie I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House that inspired me to start writing high horror movie reviews. Blackwater is an indica that's crossed between Mendocino Purps and San Fernando Valley OG Kush. Nugs are dense with a sweet aroma of grape. Blackwater’s effects have a tendency to come on quick and tonight was no different. The moment I sat down and pressed play, I could already feel my eyelids getting droopy and my muscles turning into Jell-O.
If I were reviewing this movie purely on the merits of art, it would get perfect marks.
Unfortunately, Darling didn't match the level of satisfaction that my Blackwater was delivering. Usually, some hard-hitting weed will elevate even the most boring movie into something watchable. Maybe my expectations were too. Maybe I didn't smoke enough. But more often than not, I found my mind drifting while watching Darling. There are moments of brilliance in the film. For starters the cinematography is on point. If I were reviewing this movie purely on the merits of art, it would get perfect marks. I'm a bit of a sucker for pretentious arthouse fare, and each frame in Darling is beautifully composed. It's impossible not to conjure images of Kubrick or Lynch. Furthermore, Lauren Ashley Carter delivers an amazing performance as Darling. Watching her descent into madness is convincing and terrifying to watch. In fact, the aesthetic and Ms. Carter's performance are enough reason to give this movie a chance.

I really wanted to like Darling. It checked all the right boxes for me. But in the end, it was a little bit too "out there". Don't get me wrong, I can fully appreciate "out there". One of my favorite horror movies of all time, Mandy, is definitively "out there". But with Darling, I felt like there was no rhyme or reason for it. The jarring jump cuts and random flashes of disturbing non sequiturs fell flat. It all felt contrived and shoe-horned. I could almost hear director Keating telling the editor in post, "This part needs to be edgy. I know... add some strobe lights!"

Maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe I need to give this movie another chance. Maybe I need to watch it (dare I say) sober! But enough about me, how about you? Have you watched Darling or tried Blackwater? What are your thoughts? Did you have a similar experience? Please leave a comment and let me know. And of course, don't forget to follow Bloody High on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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