Ive been listening to podcasts for years now, many years, most of them film related ones of course. If I cast my mind back to 2012, I remember several shows I listened to talking about a film called The Woman. They would talk about how great it was and how amazing the lead actress’s performance was.. I hadnt heard of The Woman so when I was walking through the supermarket one day and saw the film on the shelf, I thought that was a sign of fate that I should see just how great this film was and during the first viewing it became not only my favourite horror film, but also one of my favourite films.
Written by Jack Ketchum and Lucky KcKee, The Woman tells the story of Chris Cleek (played by Sean Bridgers),a country lawyer who captures and then attempts to “civilize” a wild woman (played by Pollyanna McIntosh) who has roamed the coast of the US for decades,living off the land. With this being a horror movie, we know that this mission might not go as smooth as the lawyer plans and so you by the end credits of The Woman, you will have witnessed one of the best and unique films around.
Fast forward a few years and I heard that there was to be a follow up film to The Woman and whilst I really wanted to see the story continue and learn more about the character of the woman,but I was also a bit nervous about following up such an amazing film. Those nerves passed though when I learned that the film (entitled Darlin) was being written and directed by Pollyanna McIntosh. Phew, The continuing story was in safe hands and I could breathe a sigh of relief.
The time between learning of Darlin, and being able to watch Darlin was painful (well not painful as such) Darlin become one of my most anticipated films of the year and as I watched social media timelines, I could see the film going through premiers in different countries and cities, but eventually I had the opportunity not only to watch Darlin when it was screening at this years Grimmfest, but also as an added super treat for me, I was able to sit down and chat with Pollyanna and chat about Darlin, The Woman, and life in general. Meeting Pollyanna is one of my 2019 highlights and I cant thank her enough for taking the time out to meet me and watching Darlin in the big screen was also a great experience.
So lets talk Darlin, how does it compare to The Woman. Well lets just say that its sometimes unfair to compare one film to another, but I guess when it comes to follow up films, remakes, etc, we all do judge films whether we want to or not. It is very safe to say though that Darlin was in safe hands and is one of my favourite films of the year and whilst I will always have a super fond place in my heart for the Lucky McKee directed 2011 film, I love Darlin and watched it twice in the same week. The film works beautifully as a standalone film, but also works just as well if you have seen the other films based on the Jack Ketchum world (Offspring, and The Woman) You can also watch them in any order you wish as I had seen The Woman before I even knew the film Offspring even existed.
We meet a grown up Darlin (a character from The Woman) as she is escorted to a hospital by The Woman (again played by Pollyanna) Darlin (played brilliantly by Lauryn Canny) is then taken to a religious facility where she will remain under their care as they try to civilize her . I wont delve into the storyline anymore as I loved seeing the characters develop and also not really knowing where this story would take me and I hope you will to.. so go in without knowing too much about the film.
I cant talk about the film Darlin without talking about how great Lauryn Canny is, with a large portion of her performance being silent (or at least near silent) she (like Pollyanna in The Woman) uses body language to tell us everything we need to know and she does it perfectly, similar to The Woman, we fear Darlin, we care for her, and we of course wait in anticipation to see what happens when anyone approaches her. Lauryn is a talent and whilst I havent seen her in any previous roles, I will definitely watch out for her.
Pollyanna has directed a wonderful film and it certainly doesn’t show that this is her feature film directing debut, she has worked with some of the best and im sure has learned many skills along the way and it shows in Darlin, the film is beautiful, and whilst it does have a very dark tone, it does let you breathe now and again with some light hearted moments that will put a smile on your face, before plunging you back into the world of The Woman and Darlin. But now I am back at the place I was in 2012, wanting more. Needing to know where the characters go, what they will do. But im fine with that. I have loved watching this journey, not only the journey of the characters, but also the journey of Pollyanna McIntosh as she goes from actress, to writer, to director to all 3 at the same time. She was, and still is one of my favourite filmmakers and I can take to see what roles she inhabits next, and of course what the next ‘Directed by’ project is.
As an added bonus, here for your viewing pleasure is the short conversation that I had with Writer Director, Actor Pollyanna McIntosh at Grimmfest