Saturday, September 23, 2023

Strange Darling (2023) Fantastic Fest 2023


There are very few things that are a certainty, death, taxes and JT Mollner‘s STRANGE DARLING is going to be a film with a huge following. The story of a serial killer chasing after his latest victim who is trying fleeing is murderous intentions. It is told with enough style that Mollner is going to be dining out on it for decades to come.

Shot on 35mm this film is a technical marvel. A flash back to the driving films of the late 70’s and early 80’s, this is a film that recalls the technical virtuosity of films like VANISHING POINT, the first two MAD MAX films, RACE WITH THE DEVIL and drive in horror. MOLLNER knows his film history and he mines it for ore to use here. What he’s doing is not lifting bits or sequences, but instead using the past a template for his work. His film was built on those earlier films but not a copy of them. He is using film history the way it should be used – raising up the art form by standing on the past, not making an exact copy.

As a physical film this is one of the best films of the year and probably of the last five years. The skill with which this film has been assembled is absolutely beyond compare. If Mollner can make more films with this sort “oh wow” factor he will be hailed as one of the greatest ever.

However as much as I absolutely love the craft of the film I’m not really a fan of the storytelling. Told in six out of order chapters the story doesn’t really work. It’s a standard issue bad guy stalks a woman tale with a few twists.  The characters are not really real people, but are constructs that exist because the cast is so good. Additionally if the story wasn’t told out of order there wouldn’t be suspense. While allegedly based on a true story some late in the game turns feel added on just to keep the story going. Mollner may be a wizard in making the film, his scripting could use a little help.

But the script is not what you are going to remember when you come out of the film. What you are going to remember is the driving nature of this thrill ride of the film. It’s such a cinematic blast that you are going to want to go again not long after you get to the end credits- I know I did.


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