With a smart, interesting premise that is both timely and authentic, Somebody’s Darling puts a supernatural twist on a real-life horror.
As a horror fan, there’s nothing more exciting than discovering new talent. Finding something new in a world full of sequels, prequels, and remakes is increasingly rare. For every GET OUT, there’s a dozen HALLOWEEN H20s. Nostalgia can be a solace, and I return time and again to my favorite stories like an old pair of shoes — comforting, slightly worn, covered in blood.
But in focusing on older properties, we’re missing out on one of the best aspects of art — that it can communicate a worldview that is immediate, that is relevant to our lives, that speaks to conflicts we ourselves are experiencing. Somebody’s Darling confronts rape culture — the most topical of issues in a post-Weinstein America — and gives it a refreshing premise.
(Warning: Potential Spoilers Ahead)
Brooding Fratboy Christian Roane (PAUL GALVAN) is the president of the hippest frat on the row. Their vodka is Grey Goose, their parties are epic, their music is, well, clearly public domain. (At a budget of 20k, you can see the elbow grease in every shot). The frat-bros seem to have a mysterious magnetism for the local college women, despite the bruises and memory gaps many of the girls experience.
But poor Christian is unfulfilled. As he hits on Sarah (JESSA SETTLE), he assumes she’s just another girl. But instead of being charmed, she calls him out on his blasé attitude and sees through his flattery. This honesty piques Christian’s interest, and he pursues her. Christian and Sarah share a connection, but Sarah keeps the relationship platonic.
Christian’s interest becomes an obsession as Sarah chooses to date her study partner instead of Christian. Christian refuses to eat, becomes ill and attracts the concern of his hard-partying frat brothers, particularly his friend Victor (FRED PARKER JR).
Victor convinces Christian to return to his old ways, and Christian despondently attends a dinner party with the other frat members and several girls. After Victor makes a speech about brotherhood, Christian is inspired to take back his life. He goes to Sarah’s dorm room. Christian and his brothers are revealed as vampires as Christian attacks and kills Sarah and his brothers feed on their dinner companions.
I’m going to warn you going into Somebody’s Darling, this is as indie as it gets. The sound is awful, the lighting is questionable, and some of the acting is downright atrocious.
That said, there were some scenes that genuinely got to me. Sarah’s natural portrayal undercut Christian’s drama nicely. She seemed realistic, intelligent, and mature. I found myself comparing this to so many other vampire movies, where the tortured demon is romanticized, and the woman’s fawning submission a foregone conclusion. Sarah’s story feels honest and true in a genre known for histrionics, her performance the believable core in a story that needed that grounding.
Likewise, Christian’s fate feels honest to the character. He is an ageless child, familiar with preying on vulnerable women living in a culture that celebrates a predator. In this world, Christian’s one true love makes him weak, and to destroy that weakness is to embrace his true self.
Among a million things wrong with Somebody’s Darling, the idea is gold, and the core relationship feels true.
Sharad Kant Patel, as writer/director/filmmaker of all trades, subverts the tropes of the vampire genre to give us a take that is inspired, even through the film’s many traditional shortcomings. As an indie fan, I’m marking him as one to watch — and eagerly looking forward to the next one.