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Florence Poug once again finds itself in a genre film where an idyllic community uses welcoming perfection as a veneer to hide more insidious secrets. don’t worry darling sees Pugh as a passionate 1950s housewife in a quaint suburban community who quickly finds herself on her own realizing something is seriously wrong. While the thriller doesn’t lack visual style and pizzazz, it struggles to build tension or offer any narrative surprises.

don’t worry darling opens with a lively dinner party that features Alice (Pugh) and her husband Jack (Harry Styles), happy and content among close friends. Alice and Jack are childless by choice, a topic that occasionally surfaces among Bunny couples (director Olivia Wilde) and Bill (Nick Kroll) and Peg, perpetually pregnant (Kate Berlant) with her husband Peter (Asif Ali). All live in the remote town of Victory, part of the mysterious “Project Victory” led by the elusive Frank (Chris Pine). The wives don’t know anything about their husband’s work in the company, because it’s top secret, but they don’t want anything if they respect a few essential rules. They should not, for any reason, travel beyond the city or attempt to search for business contact information. Naturally, Alice notices cracks in Victory’s perfection, creating paranoia and cracks in her idyllic reality.

Wilde, working from a screenplay by Katie Silberman, wastes no time layering clues that something sinister is afoot. Aside from former friend turned social outcast Margaret (KiKi Layne), ousted from the group for paranoid whispers about Victory’s malicious intentions, Wilde weaves in subliminal images, time-wasters and eerie hallucinations that leave Alice questioning her reality. The walls close in on themselves; planes appear where they shouldn’t, and other oddities cause Alice to search for the truth. The problem, of course, is that no one believes her.

The adverse signs are so rapid and regular that they leave Alice without much room to grow. She begins almost immediately at a high level of emotional restraint through further paranoid isolation, and Silberman’s storyline leaves her trapped there for the entirety. There is no constant increase in intensity; the obvious signs presented early on prevent the tension from taking hold and put viewers many steps ahead of Alice. Obviously this is heading long before the obvious answers arrive, which creates a long waiting game. When these answers finally arrive, they are too superficial to have much impact.

Don't Worry Darling disgusting bloody review

Counterbalancing the predictable nature of the narrative is an engaging performance from Florence Pugh, who manages to maintain rooting interest despite a relatively flat arc. Director of Photography Matthew Libatic also creates a captivating look for don’t worry darling with vibrant color palettes befitting the imitated era that contrast with monochromatic nightmarish visions. Glamorous production design and Wilde’s eye for composition also ensure that while don’t worry darling may not impress narratively, it looks fantastic.

You’ll probably guess Victory’s dark secrets by the trailer alone; that’s on the nose. While that predictability results in a mostly unsatisfying finale compounded by basic and overly literal themes, Wilde at least manages to make the journey a sensory feast. Inventive designs and styling reinforce Pugh’s infectious charms as another beleaguered woman trapped in an unsupportive relationship. It’s a pretty dazzling affair while it lasts, but it’s mostly forgettable.

don’t worry darling hits theaters September 23.

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