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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

SOMEBODY'S DARLING -- Movie Review by Porfle

Those bad, bad frat boys are at it again in SOMEBODY'S DARLING (2016), only this time there's something more sinister going on than road trips and toga parties.

We know from the start that there's something "off" about this upper-crust frat house that's steeped in improbable splendor, has a wine cellar, and is rigged with hidden cameras so that its voyeuristic members can observe every room (yes, that one too).  A fleeting reference to a former member who's now their wealthy benefactor gets us to wondering even more just as the party's getting under way.

College coeds Madison, Sarah, and friends allow themselves to be sucked into the spiders' web of forbidden fun as so many party girls before them.  For some, it'll be a date-rapey experience they won't soon remember.  For Sarah, however, it's the start of a strange romance, as bad-boy frat prez Christian unexpectedly feels something for her that's akin to--well, an actual feeling. 

Since this is a no-no for this particular frat, Christian's initially courtly and then gradually more and more creepily obsessive pursuit of Sarah over the next few days becomes a cause first for concern, then for action.  But how far will they go to rein Christian away from his new object of desire and back into the fold?  And for that matter, just what the hell's up with the fold anyway?

From the captivating opening titles sequence onward, first-time feature director Sharad Kant Patel draws us into this mystery with a refreshingly offbeat visual style that constantly has the feel of a fever dream.

A blandly colorful palette alternates with darkly oppressive scenes so monochromatic that they're almost black-and-white, mirroring the changing moods through which the story leads us.

An aura of paranoia pervades as Sarah and her friends sense themselves being stalked by the mysterious fraternity.  Patel's hallucinatory images, composed and photographed with a keen artist's eye, keep us off-guard ourselves.

The sound design aids greatly in establishing mood, as does the ominous, impressionistic musical score co-written by Patel himself.  The film has a somber, menacing quality with splashes of shocking violence and a mysterious detour into the past that takes us back to the Civil War itself.

Performances are strong, particularly among leads Paul Galvin, as the enigmatic Christian, and Jessa Settle as Sarah, whom we fear has inadvertently wandered into a dreadfully ill-fated relationship.  The rest of the cast adequately fill their roles as either hapless, unsuspecting party girls or malevolent predators. 

Just when the story seems to be wandering a bit, SOMEBODY'S DARLING suddenly hits us with the stunning truth behind it all and ends on a strong note which may leave some viewers a bit dazed. (Or not, if you saw it coming.)  What stayed with me more than anything was the pure pleasure of watching director Sharad Patel's imaginatively-wrought visuals deftly edging back and forth between the dreamlike and the nightmarish. 

Available now on:

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