Director: Pollyanna McIntosh
Cast: Lauryn Canny, Bryan Batt, Nora-Jane Noone, Cooper Andrews, Pollyanna McIntosh
Screenplay: Pollyanna McIntosh
100 mins. Not Rated.
A few years back, I saw the film The Woman, not even aware of the fact that it was a sequel. This is the risk sometimes with not including a 2 in the title, but then again The Woman is a rather different film than its predecessor, Offspring. You don’t really have to have seen Offspring to understand The Woman. I recall really not liking The Woman for quite a number of reasons, and when the opportunity finally arrived to catch Offspring, I figured it was worth a try, and hey, it might make me like The Woman more. It did not. Offspring just didn’t work for me either, but I remained vigilant, and when news spread of a third film, this one titled Darlin’, I knew I had to see it, because this is what I do. I’m curious…like a cat, and I needed to see if this third film, written and directed by series star Pollyanna McIntosh (Deathcember), would finally win me over.
Set some time after the events of the previous film, the missing girl Darlin’ (Lauryn Canny) has been found outside of a local hospital and taken to St. Philomena’s, a Catholic boarding school, to be reformed from her feral personality. As Darlin’ begins to see her human traits returning, she tries to put together elements of her past in her search for salvation. But St. Philomena’s isn’t a safe place, as Darlin’ soon realizes. The Bishop (Bryan Batt, Easy Does It, TV’s Mad Men) is a child molester who has set his sights on Darlin’, and the Woman (McIntosh) is searching for her as well.
I’m sad to report that Darlin’ is a bad movie. I was really hoping this time around to get something from this film and franchise, but it just hasn’t won me over. It seems that each film tries to ask some interesting questions and mine the story for something fascinating and unique in the unusual characters and events, but they never really go anywhere. Of course the Bishop is a pedophile. Of course Darlin’ finds a rebellious new friend at St. Philomena’s. Of course, the ending it exactly what I expected. It’s a frustratingly simple narrative that always feels like it’s going somewhere only to abandon the journey along the way.
The tone is another misfire here, but it was a problem for The Woman as well. This is a horror story. If it was told with less of a satirical viewpoint, I think it would have been stronger. Lean into the horror. This whole trilogy deals with some fucked up characters and plot points. Treat it like a horror story and it might actually feel like one. Instead, there are these little flashes of attempts at humor that took me out of the film and lost my focus.
Sadly, Darlin’ just another film in this franchise that does nothing for me. It squanders an initially interesting setup by falling into cliche and not taking the material seriously. It sits at the edge of fascination but never leaps into compelling storytelling, and I just didn’t enjoy any of it. It’s a downright bad movie in a franchise that has gone on longer than necessary.
-Kyle A. Goethe