This is the first Todd Solondz film in 10 years that isn’t connected to any of his previous work (Palindromes being the sequel to Welcome To The Dollhouse and Life During Wartime being the sequel to Happiness). This is definitely his best work since ‘Storytelling’. He followed up 2009’s ‘Life During Wartime’ pretty quickly, as there usually seems to be a 5 year wait between each of his films in the last decade.
‘Dark Horse’ is the story of “Abe”. An immature 30-something year old manchild that still lives with his parents (Christopher Walken & Mia Farrow), collects actions figures (there’s a scene in the film when he buys a thundercats action figure for $450), lives in his younger brother’s shadow and is socially awkward (some scenes are almost painful to watch when he interacts with other people). At the beginning of the film Abe falls in love with the depressed “Miranda” (Selma Blair): another 30-something year old who lives with her parents and battles depression. After one “date”, Abe asks Miranda to marry him and she accepts for all the wrong reasons. Like any other Solondz film, he masterfully mixes tragedy with comedy. Just like the bullying Dawn faces in ‘Welcome To The Dollhouse’, the pedophilia in ‘Happiness’, the maid murdering the family in ‘Storytelling’ and the abortion…and more pedophilia in ‘Palindromes’, we find ourselves laughing at things that really shouldn’t be funny.
Abe is just another signature “loser” character in a long line of “Todd Solondz loosers” (Heather Matarazzo in ‘Welcome To The Dollhouse’, Phillip Seymour Hoffman in ‘Happiness’, Paul Giamatti in ‘Storytelling’ and Solondz himself who starred in ‘Fear Anxiety & Depression’).
The performances were good. Selma Blair may annoy some of you as her character is so depressing to the point where you don’t want her to even talk anymore. And something about Christopher Walken’s natural creepiness seemed to go perfectly with Todd Solondz’ style. It was also nice to see him NOT play a cartoonish version of himself.
Todd Solondz comes off like a modest guy, but something tells me that he got so tired of seeing the common themes of his movies copied for the last 10 years that it kinda forced him to switch up his own style. This is his first film to not feature pedophilia, masturbation or rape.
One of my issues with the film was that it wouldn’t end. And its not even that long of a movie to begin with. ‘Dark Horse’ felt like it ended 3 times. Just put a period on the movie already! Also, every Todd Solondz film (including his rarely seen first feature ‘Fear Anxiety & Depression’) features a dream sequences and his films often play on reality vs. fantasy, but there was a little too much of that (for my taste) in this.