Over the last decade there has been a huge sea-change within cinema. Female voices are beginning to be heard on a regular basis and making films is no longer just the boys club it used to be. This change has been most pronounced in horror cinema. A genre where female protagonists have often come off badly. In 2011, Lucky McKee released The Woman. Written is collaboration with author Jack Ketchum, it was a sequel to Offspring. Darlin’ carries on where McKee’s film left off.

Darlin’, now a teenager (Lauryn Canny), has developed a feral personality. She’s left at a hospital by The Woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) where she eventually receives some kindness from one of the nurses (Cooper Andrews). The Bishop (Bryan Batt) sees a chance to demonstrate the power of God so she’s placed in a Catholic boarding school in the care of one of the nuns (Kristina Arntz). Where the education is less than enlightened.

Reprising the role she played in the previous films and also taking on directorial duties, McIntosh delves into the themes of Ketchum’s books whilst putting a bitingly feminist slant on proceedings. Darlin’ is a cutting satire but also a natural extension of what has gone before. There’s much to praise but also a few moments where it loses direction and focus. However, overall it’s an interesting, well-handled and genuinely fascinating horror.

Darlin’ screened at Grimmfest.