New Horror Releases: Somebody’s Darling (2017) - Reviewed

The 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s were replete with college-aged co-ed narratives that either made you laugh (Animal House, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Revenge of the Nerds, American Pie), made you cry (Stand by Me), or scared you so much that you pissed yourself (Scream). Perhaps you laughed so hard that you pissed yourself (Cabin in the Woods). As mainstream interests have shifted, the focus has turned these types of films towards micro-productions, giving a new generation a chance to be heard. Sharad Kant Patel’s Somebody’s Darling is one of those opportunities. 

Set on the Williamsburg College campus, the film opens with a college radio voice over, commenting on the recent renovation of the Omicron frat house being renovated and the social apathy that this fraternity brings on the campus life. on a party of college-aged high society. The gorgeous and modern fraternity house is full of revelers, enjoying libations and each other’s company, and yet, Patel’s direction makes the room feel more sinister than it actually is. Cinematographer Robert Murphy’s use of colored lenses help to convey emotions and character vantage points as we meet Christian Roane (Paul Galvan), Victor Dunovant (Fred Parker, Jr.) and Patrick Marian (Matt Tramel), the three most senior members of the fraternity. 

At the party, Christian falls for Sarah Stein (Jessa Settle), a history major. Their conversation in the kitchen alludes to a connection greater than the present, party atmosphere. On the terrace, their discussion turns to the history of the region surrounding the campus when Christian tries to take advantage of Sarah. She smartly pulls back, telling Christian that they’ve only just met. Patel’s respect of the era we live in is admirable. Patel even goes as far to call out Sarah’s hard-to-get act as the promiscuous Madison (Kristen Tucker) asks Sarah if she’s gay, which she vehemently denies. It was an awkward scene, but it demonstrates Sarah’s commitment to remaining single until the right suitor comes along. It also suggests that there is more to Sarah than is conveyed in the opening sequence. 

As the story progresses, Christian becomes ill. Patrick tries to tell Christian what he needs to do to fix the situation, but Christian has human feelings for Sarah, who has moved on, finding a new boyfriend. Patel’s understanding of Sebastian Mathews’ story, which the script is based on, comes through quite clearly. However, the overall story never really can decide if it wants to be a vampire film or a love story. It evokes feeling of Animal House, Stand by Me and Scream, without all of the horrors characters in those films experienced. 

Patel and his creative team worked magic on the technical front, especially sound. The opening credits reminded me of Saul Bass and Maurice Binder’s work, while Patel’s filmmaking economy stretched to the music, which reminded me of Bernard Herman in places. The technical achievements aside, they cannot compensate for a story that is unwilling to break out of its shell. Perhaps that was its point as the acting is solid for this caliber film, and I would like to see what Patel has up his sleeves for his next film. 

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-Ben Cahlamer