The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - SOMEBODY'S DARLING | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - SOMEBODY'S DARLING

somebody's darling review
A college fraternity harbours a supernatural secret.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Sharad Kant Patel

Starring: Paul Galvan, Jessa Settle, Fred Parker Jr, Matt Tramel, Cathy Baron, Kristen Tucker, Monique Cortez

somebody's darling poster

The first thing to get your attention here is the eye catching animated retro credits sequence. It truly is wonderful, and it reminded me of the stark Mad Men credits in its style. A strong dramatic score adds to the building anticipation, and you’d be forgiven for expecting a slightly higher quality film than the one presented here; as, I’m sorry to say, it's all smoke and mirrors.

The movie begins with a student radio show, which is authentically full of ‘umms and ahs’. The presenter announces that a local Frat House has enjoyed a renovation and is throwing a ‘re-opening’ party that night. A title card informs the audience that it's 2006.

As people start arriving, we watch a reclusive frat brother (Christian - Paul Galvan) picking wine from the cellar while having flashbacks to some sort of ‘interview’ on a mountain top - in formal wear he’s seated on a swivel chair next to an empty one, awaiting his host perhaps?

Frat boy Victor (Fred Parker Jr) is the obvious ‘bad boy’ of the group, as he’s seen watching the ‘talent’ through spy cams, observing one woman use the bathroom for his own gratification. As a group of newcomers arrive (women the others refer to as ‘hens’) he calls the frat boys the ‘foxes’ to the hens.

somebody's darling

The ladies of course immediately congregate in the bathroom to freshen up (but they just arrived??) and gossip about other women at the school. Madison (Kristen Tucker) is clearly the ‘mean girl’ of the group, and she seems to delight in pushing others' buttons.

They leave the bathroom and mingle, and almost immediately Madison connects with Victor.

Christian and shy girl of the group Sarah (Jessa Settle) connect too, bonding over their mutual love of history while looking at the old Civil War plantation house that can be viewed from the frat house.

He calls her interesting and they share a kiss, but she’s not buying his lines and leaves after pointing out he’s only known her 10 minutes.

Meanwhile Sarah and Madison's friend Monique (Monique Cortez) wanders upstairs into the ‘private’ party and finds some odd happenings. As we fade to black it becomes obvious something sinister is occurring up there.

Unfortunately for the party (which was the set up for the rest of the movie), the acting is stilted and subdued - like everyone took a Valium before the shoot.

The sound quality is either muffled or too quiet and large chunks of dialogue are not clearly audible - this continues for the majority of the film.

The next day Madison and Sarah share a wholly unbelievable conversation where Sarah’s friend asks her if she’s a ‘lezzie’ and then calls her a black widow and a twat for not taking unwanted male attention as a compliment - hmm, with friends like these who needs enemies, amirite?!

Back at the house, Christian is kissing a random girl who refers to him as a god so he throws her off of his lap and enjoys more ‘interview on a mountain’ flashbacks, as you do.

somebody's darling

That night Christian stalks Sarah and she inexplicably apologises for actually calling him on his crap at the party. They go for a coffee where Sarah runs into Madison, who encourages her to “bag her man” - gag!

While she’s talking, he sees her in the empty chair next to him on ‘Interview Mountain’ so decides she must be his soul mate.

Sarah shares with Christian that her former partner cheated on her, and he shares that he can get any girl he wants - romantic!

She introduces him to her study partner Eric, and Christian leaves confirming he will see her again.

We skip a few days/weeks/months/indeterminate time and next see Sarah taking a field trip to where a civil war battle happened. Christian calls her and talks her through what really happened there, the stuff that’s not in her history books. He seems to be winning her over and she remarks on their previous ‘marathon phone calls’ (which we haven’t been privy to).

Elsewhere, Monique is having some peculiar flashbacks and hallucinations related to what happened when she wandered upstairs at the party. Then, in scenes that are supposed to feel menacing but instead are just odd, she is super closely followed by a creep and then ‘rescued’ by a bigger creep - things don’t look good for Monique!

Madison is seen telling a friend that she had a sexual interlude with watcher Victor but couldn’t remember it afterwards. The friend suggests maybe it was so good she blacked out - not exactly what a person's first thought would be.

Christian is confused to have not heard from Sarah, and so goes to visit and finds her less than enthusiastic that he has found out where she lives. Deciding that she must be cheating on him, he returns to the frat house to get drunk and start some sort of hunger strike, much to the worry of Victor.

Monique shows up at the Frat house, obviously altered or drug seeking, and some predatory guys take her upstairs, leering like idiots, which made this viewer more than a little uncomfortable.

Christian and Sarah bond again as he comes back to her apartment clearly sick, and her ‘inner nurse’ kicks in.

Monique is also sick, and the leering Frat guys decide to dump her at the hospital steps for medical attention.

Back at Sarah’s home, Eric the study buddy shows up and refers to Sarah as his girlfriend, which she confirms, saying that they are happy and asking Christian to leave - um, when did that relationship happen??

somebody's darling

Poor rejected Christian just seems to get paler and sicker before the climax reveals the truth of the Frat boys’ existence. This finale is handled in a more rushed fashion than the slow build required, but you are afforded time to enjoy that mountaintop imagery again, and the final denouement is definitely the best part of the film.

Galvan’s acting and the sound quality improved throughout the runtime and were more than adequate by the end; but the pacing, tone and lighting are all wrong.

Sharad Kant Patel, who shows some potential in his visual flourishes, directed it (and also created an excellent score), but the script by Sebastian Mathews and Patel is the biggest problem here. Characters behave nonsensically and are either ill-defined or able to be summed up with one word. It toys with rape culture but doesn’t embrace this topic enough to have anything impactful to say. It's episodic and unclear, and needs a major rewrite to make the film work as it should. There are some interesting ideas, but they just aren’t realised.

Patel, and whoever did the opening credits, deserve long and fruitful careers in film.

As for the rest? Maybe not so much.

Somebody's Darling will be available on iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play and Vudu from December 1st.