Don’t worry darling, there is little here that is shocking in this movie or even novel. Olivia Wilde’s hugely hyped allegorical thriller has no shortage of sinister overshadowing, but the big reveal amounts to an unimpressive whimper.

Don’t Worry Darling, which is out in cinemas, has been written by Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke and Katie Silberman. Florence Pugh and Harry Styles play a picture-perfect couple in a picture-perfect company town in California. Jack (Styles) works for the mysterious Victory Project, led by the messianic Frank (Chris Pine).

Victory is involved in the “development of progressive materials”. Since this is the 1950s, when America is in the middle of a nuclear arms race with the former Soviet Union, it’s not entirely surprising that the wives are advised to mind their own business, stick to their domestic duties and look pretty at all times.

A secret ingredient drives the cookie-cutter community, revealed to Frank’s wife Alice (Pugh) through disorienting visions and the strange behaviour of one of her neighbours. For all of Victory’s supposed omniscience and control over its employees, Alice faces little opposition as she blunders through Frank’s wonderland. Clues into Victory Project’s reality are strewn around, waiting to be discovered. Frank is a sexy version of the average Silicon Valley tech bro than an evil mastermind.

In the absence of credible suspense or a meaningful exploration of its supposed feminist themes, the 124-minute film sputters along on the strength of its technical achievements. The Victory Project community is beautifully detailed . Matthew Libatique’s sun-kissed frames tremble with nervous energy and the suggestion that what you see is most certainly what you don’t get.

Harry Styles is well cast as a climber eager to impress Frank, while Frank himself is played with expertly judged control by Chris Pine. Florence Pugh’s uninhibited body language and intelligent manner make it challenging to accept her a 1950s domestic goddess. These very qualities hold Pugh in good stead as she lurches towards a truth that is staring her – and us – in the face.

Don’t Worry Darling (2022).