A bespectacled woman with short brown hair reads a book in a pink-walled bedroom.

Slamdance Film Review: Darla in Space

Film Reviews

Slamdance Film Review: Darla In Space
Directors: Eric Laplante and Susie Moon

Premiere: 01.20

After learning that she is over $300,000 in debt to the IRS due to her mother’s shady investments, Darla, played by Alex E. Harris, discovers a sentient kombucha scoby named Mother that can communicate with her telepathically and give people psychedelic orgasms. Darla teams up with Mother to raise the money she needs to pay off the IRS and get her custom cat coffin business back on the right track.

Darla in Space is an unexpected blend of Napoleon Dynamite’s simple rural atmosphere and deadpan humor, Requiem for a Dream’s arch-of-temptation-fueled prosperity falling to depths of depravity and desperation and 2001: A Space Odyssey’s sentient being stooping to murder and manipulation to achieve its own greater purpose. Darla In Space is anchored around Darla’s journey to dig herself out of the debt that her overbearing and financially frivolous mom, played by Constance Shulman, landed her in and her own journey of self-discovery and independence.

Darla In Space is an amazing character exploration— every character, no matter how briefly they appear, seems well-established in the film’s world and plays an important role. There are no throw-away characters as Darla interacts with numerous clients from all walks of life seeking out mind-blowing orgasms. Mother, voiced by J.S. Oliver, is a clear tribute to HAL 9000 in the similar voice acting delivery and the character’s genuine desire to evolve and learn. Harris is hilarious as she carries the film by primarily interacting with a blob in a pool by herself. We see her identity morph as her character evolves through desperation and cunning and forces herself out of her comfort zone, all while maintaining her own quirky flair.

Visually, Laplante and Moon paint a bright and colorful yet unassuming world where people unquestionably engage in sexual stimulation with a large mat of bacteria and yeast in a kiddie pool. For a film fixated on mind-bending orgasms, Darla In Space is not sexual and the visuals of the actual orgasms help shape the experiences as more than sexual— they are beautifully animated, psychedelic religious experiences.

Darla In Space is an unexpected buddy comedy that beautifully hones its absurdity into something that is fun, hopeful and highly entertaining. –Ben Trentelman

Read more of SLUG‘s comprehensive coverage of the 2024 Slamdance Film Festival