DARLIN’ / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: POLLYANNA MCINTOSH / STARRING: LAURYN CANNY, COOPER ANDREWS BRYAN BATT, NORA-JANE NOONE, POLLYANNA MCINTOSH / RELEASE DATE: TBC
A direct sequel to 2011's The Woman, which was from the very twisted world created by the late Jack Ketchum via his novel The Offspring. You don't need to have seen the previous movies to be able to watch Darlin', although it does help. After the events of The Woman, the eponymous character drops the feral Darlin' at the local hospital, where she is befriended by male nurse, Tony. After getting her cleaned up and ensuring that she isn't injured, Darlin' is taken into the care of a girl's care home, run by a Bishop, on the proviso that he can use her transformation from a godless feral beast into a child of God in order to get more funding for the home.
At the home, Darlin' makes good progress, even making friends with the other girls and learning to talk, all under the watchful eye of Sister Jennifer, a previous inhabitant of the home. At the same time, the Woman is stalking the hospital and trying to track down where Darlin' has gone, falling in with a small group of homeless women in between a few murders here and there. She is trying to get herself a baby, as we learn the reason she dropped Darlin' at the hospital in the first place is that she knew Darlin' was pregnant. Finally, she learns where she is and takes the other women on a march to get her.
As with the previous movies, the subject matter is grim and nasty, but it is noticeable that McIntosh has injected some true moments of necessary levity into the character of the Woman, which will bring a smile to your face before she goes on to murder the next hapless idiot that dares to cross her path. Canny makes an empathetic anti-heroine and does well in a role where she doesn't speak for 50% of her screen time. Considering the materials involved here: pregnancy, abuse by the church etc., the film could have felt almost oppressive to watch, but the running time does canter through quite easily. The ending is not terribly conclusive, but then leaving the opportunity for another sequel is not a bad idea. It's not flashy, but the whole point is that this is more of a character piece, albeit featuring a lot characters that you wouldn't want to call your friends. This is McIntosh's debut as a director and on this showing, she may have a bright future in that new role.