Watch a great movie and it can inspire you to achieve similar greatness. Watch a bad movie and it can inspire you to do so much better. That’s the purpose of “Don’t Worry Darling.” It’s not a bad movie, but it’s nowhere near a good one either.
Because “Don’t Worry Darling” is such a flawed movie, study it to see what not to do in your own screenplays. Two glaring mistakes “Don’t Worry Darling” makes is that it introduces something unusual that’s never setup earlier and never followed through afterwards.
A second glaring mistake is that the hero doesn’t defeat the villain.
[***** SPOILER ALERTS *****]
One key moment in the story occurs when the hero spots a red plane crashing in the desert, which also appears on the movie’s promotional poster. Yet the appearance of this plane is never setup earlier so its appearance comes out of nowhere. Earlier, the red plane image appears when the hero’s friend, a Black woman named Margaret, talks about taking her son to the desert where he dragged a toy red plane behind him.
That red plane hints at something, but the movie never explains what this connection might be, leaving this part of the story feeling unresolved. We never learn what the red plane means, why it appears and why it disappears without crashing.
Perhaps the worst problem occurs between the hero and the villain. In good movies, the hero confronts the villain and defeats him or her. In “Don’t Worry Darling,” the hero drives away and the villain’s wife suddenly pulls out a knife and kills the villain.
The villain’s wife never hinted that she would do that. In fact, throughout the entire movie, the hero’s wife appears to defend and protect her husband, so why she would suddenly stab her husband for no reason? This has two problems.
First, it makes no sense whatsoever since the villain’s wife never indicated at any time that she was going to fight the villain. Second, it makes the story weak since the hero never defeats the villain.
Imagine if in “Star Wars,” one of Darth Vader’s trusted generals suddenly blew up the Death Star instead of Luke? That would make an unsatisfying ending because the hero must also be responsible for the villain’s demise.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is a movie loaded with good ideas while presenting multiple examples of poor storytelling. By spotting these inconsistencies and moments that lack emotional intrigue, you can avoid making the same mistakes with your own screenplay.
A good rule of thumb would be to ask what would “Don’t Worry Darling” do to tell a story and then make sure you don’t do that. The two lessons are simple. If you’re going to introduce something that affects the story, set i up earlier and let us know the significance afterwards.
Second, always have the hero defeat the villain. Letting someone else defeat the villain always creates a weak, unsatisfying ending. Watch “Don’t Worry Darling” and ask yourself if watching the hero fail to villain helps or hurts the overall movie.