There are certain subjects that take a deft hand to approach and, when tackled, should be done so with a purpose and not just as a trivial plot detail. For example, a subject like rape culture is one that will make people bristle if mishandled. In ‘Somebody’s Darling’ we see a supernatural take on the subject, but does its unique approach offer a thoughtful insight into the issue?
“Somebody’s Darling” centers on a brooding frat house president named Christian (Paul Galvan) who has his dreary existence interrupted when he meets Sarah (Jessica Settle) at a high end frat party. What starts as a budding friendship quickly devolves into an unsettling pursuit as Christian becomes unhinged and obsessed over Sarah.
This film is billed as a supernatural take on the subject of rape culture on college campuses; however, the supernatural aspect is rather minimal. In fact, if you removed the supernatural component of the film it wouldn’t change a whole lot about the story. Christian and his frat brothers are stereotypical college douchebags who treat women like fodder, but their true motivation for doing so is the “supernatural” part of the movie. It’s ultimately kind of trivial as what they’re doing is scummy regardless of having some greater machination. In some ways it feels like the supernatural part of the movie is there simply for the sake of having a twist, but the film drops enough obvious clues that you can see the big reveal coming long before it happens.
When it comes to the topic of rape culture the film attempts to touch on multiple aspects of it. With Christian being the main character we see the toxic environment he exists in that normalizes and encourages the behavior of the people responsible for the heinous acts. And then we get brief glimpses into the lives of the people they’ve affected and how they’re changed by what happens to them. It treats the subject well, but it’s not exactly a deep dive into the issue. It’s almost textbook as to how it approaches things. For example, one scene shows a college girl nervously walking around at night. She gets on the phone with someone and says she’s freaked out because she thinks she’s being followed by a stranger. However, she runs into one of the frat members she’s friendly with and thinks everything is okay. An obvious display of you’re more likely to be attacked by someone you know than a stranger.
The majority of the plot is distilled through Christian’s perspective as we see his obsession over Sarah rapidly build. Paul Galvan does an excellent job of portraying a character that is, initially, detached and unmoved by the word around him. As Christian begins to unravel, Paul’s performance becomes a bit more manic without being comical. It’s a subtle change as he becomes more frayed as the movie progresses. His performance was actually one of my favorite parts of the film.
I also have to say that the music in the film is really well crafted and did a lot to draw me in. Right from the credits I felt like I was watching a Hitchcockian thriller thanks to the music. I actually listened to the opening credits a few times, it’s that engrossing. It’s clear that they thought they had a great piece of music on their hands as well because one of the special features is dedicated to composing it.
And while the film is an audible treat, I have to say that visually it left me feeling perplexed. In “Somebody’s Darling” they use this dream-like filter throughout the movie that gives it this almost fuzzy and overly bright look. It’s hard to describe, but you can see it in the trailer below. I appreciate when someone chooses to go with an aesthetic and sticks to it, but this particular style just didn’t gel with me and left me feeling at odds with the movie.
Overall, “Somebody’s Darling” pulls together an unnerving tale about obsession and destruction, but the film doesn’t have enough of a foundation to drive it home. Between the look of the movie, some weak acting, and plodding moments in the story I kept feeling myself be drawn out of what should have been an engrossing premise.
“Somebody’s Darling” is currently available on VOD.