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Review: Feral child runs wild in ‘Darlin’ ’

Lauryn Canny, from left, Nora-Jane Noone and Bryan Batt in "Darlin'."
(Dark Sky Films)

“Darlin’ ” may not be as stomach-turning as “The Woman” or “Offspring,” but Pollyanna McIntosh understands the strength of this strange series

In 2011, Pollyanna McIntosh played the title role in writer-director Lucky McKee’s “The Woman” (co-written with Jack Ketchum), a controversial horror film about a feral cannibal abducted by a respected attorney, who abuses her in front of his family. McIntosh had played the same character in director Andrew van den Houten’s 2009 “Offspring” (also written by Ketchum), where the Woman was part of an ancient band of roving man-eaters.

Now, McIntosh has written and directed “Darlin,’ ” in which the Woman loses track of the teenager she’s been raising out in the woods, and ventures into the city to find her. Lauryn Canny plays the girl, named Darlin’, who gets discovered first by a scheming priest (Bryan Batt) and stowed away at a Catholic girls’ school.

Most of “Darlin’ ” follows the title character, as she first resists the church’s plan to civilize her, then gradually begins to come around to the idea that she needs to be “saved.” McIntosh the director spends a lot of time with Darlin’ and her sympathetic classmates, occasionally cutting back to show the Woman taking refuge with homeless women.

The parallel story lines are both about a twisted sisterhood, and come together in a climactic church service sequence that’s equal parts disgusting and grandiose — and kind of awesome, for fans of bizarre, punky horror.

“Darlin’ ” may not be as stomach-turning as “The Woman” or “Offspring,” but McIntosh understands the strength of this strange series, which is all about how humanity is inherently savage and clannish, no matter how well-groomed and well-mannered we may seem.

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‘Darlin’ ’

Rating: Not rated

When: Opens Friday

Where: Digital Gym Cinema

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

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