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Darling Review: The Phantom of the Opera

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Music Director GV Prakash Kumar in Darling Movie StillsDarling begins quite curiously.

A couple unwinding at a luxurious beach house die under mysterious circumstances.

Kathir (GV Prakash Kumar) and his friends then arrive at the said beach house to spend the last few hours of their lives. They call themselves the Saavu Sangam, having decided to commit suicide.

It’s an interesting, unexplored premise for horror, and I settle back comfortably.
But that’s when a rude reminder arrives: Darling isn’t just horror. It’s horror-comedy.

James Kumaran (Bala Saravanan) and Arpudha Raj (Karunas) begin unleashing their battery of jokes.

One by one.

James Kumaran, I learn, is a die-hard fan of James Cameron. He also sets up a rasigar mandram for his …namesake. Arpudha Raj, on the other hand, is lovelorn. He pines for ‘Rose Mary’, and sings romantic numbers.

Their double entendres – a nod to director Bhagyaraj – are mildly funny. They evoke sporadic laughter, and quite effortlessly undo the promise that the first few moments offer.

*****

Darling is a composer-turned-actor’s movie alright. It screams that out loud. The first 45 minutes contain four songs. I wouldn’t have missed much even if I had arrived an hour late.

Every back-story is narrated through an uninspiring song. And thus, director Sam Anton effectively destroys the momentum – a crucial element for any horror film.

*****

Everything about Darling is ordinary. The story is a no-brainer. The entire movie is shot in a beach house, and it gets claustrophobic after a while. When an angry Kathir walks out of the house and hails a rick, I breathe some fresh air as well.

In a particular song, Nisha (Nikki Galrani), who is smitten with Kathir, begins stalking him. She has a fixated (unnatural) smile, swoons when she bumps into Kathir and then, scurries away, shaking her head. Someone in the audience hoots, “Tamil cinema heroine-na ipdi gudhichi gudhichi thaan varanum!”

The performances (save Karunas) are mediocre. GV Prakash’s strategically grown beard is there for a reason, I realise. He takes on some thugs in the rain, and the cinematographer quite cannily captures the scenes from a distance.

Thus, GV Prakash’s emotions (or the lack thereof) during critical moments remain undocumented.

******

The phantom is perhaps the most ordinary of all. She fails to instil fear and appears at the drop of the hat.
And that’s when, the quite exciting neo-exorcist of all times enters the frame. Ghost Gopal Varma (Naan Kadavul Rajendran) walks in to thunderous applause. His introduction, reminiscent of The Ghost Rider, is grand. He speaks English, and drives the demons away through …Skype. He is that cool. And, comical.

Much to my dismay though, Gopal Varma appears for a very short while, post which the ordinaries resume running the show.

But I’m quite grateful to him, all the same.

*****

The Darling review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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