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Darling by Giona Ostinelli (Review)

posted Apr 18, 2016, 5:00 PM by Kaya Savas

Darling is an indie horror film that is trying to go the Tarantino route and throwback to a retro style by deliberately imitating other directors. Very much like The Hateful Eight stole its premise and structure from John Carpenter’s The Thing, here Darling is a pretty direct homage to Roman Polanski’s Repulsion. The plot revolves around a caretaker who starts working in an old Manhattan mansion where she slowly descends into madness as the building’s haunted past manifests itself. The score by Giona Ostinelli is effective to say the least. This very unsettling score is a perfect representation of a decent into madness even if it structurally struggles to become a cohesive whole.

The score is structured in such that there is plenty of music through the narrative, but with short 1-2min tracks that work in bursts. This is one of the more on the nose horror scores I’ve heard recently, and it does not hold back. I think sometimes too much music can hurt a horror film, but I think here the pure aggressive nature of the score works. Yes, this is indeed an aggressive score. Expect to be jolted and chilled throughout the entire listen with very few moments to catch your breath. In a sense that is the strength of the score, but also the weakness. This constant state of heightened terror leaves a lack of building towards climactic moments; there is a lack of pacing and structure. The score acts more like sound design in some areas, and there are many different techniques to admire in that respect. However, I never found a sense of progression pushing me towards a climax. The score sort of just relies on the film to structure everything and is only here to add to the hypnotic yet chaotic idea that the music should be “psychological”.

The score succeeds as terrifying sound design but sort of fails as a storytelling device, which is what a score should do. Right off the bat this thing floors the gas pedal and I never got a sense of character or story. All I got was 30 tracks of jolting and unsettling music meant to either send chills down your spine or make your heart race. I applaud the sonic techniques used as they really are effective, but as a whole I think the score hardly tells a story that envelopes the listener.