Directed by: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Libby Day’s (Jerins as a child and Theron as an adult) entire life has been the result of a single night. The night that her mother and two sisters were brutally murdered, leaving her and her brother Ben (Sheridan as a teen and Stoll as an adult) as the only survivors. A young, scared Libby testified that she witnessed Ben commit the murders, sending him to prison and opening the next chapter of Libby’s life. Now an adult, she has lived, in her own words, a “Lazy” life. Living off of donations sent by concerned strangers and the royalties from the book she “Wrote” about that night.
But, now the donations and royalties have run out, and Libby is broke and about to be evicted. That is until a young man (Hoult) approaches her with an offer. He and a group of true crime enthusiasts known as the “Kill club” are determined to prove her brother’s innocence, and will pay her to help them by answering questions and aiding with their investigation. Desperate, she begrudgingly agrees.
Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner employs dark, ominously toned style as the film bounces back and forth in time (the flashback scenes appearing in grainy black and white). The cinematography by Barry Ackroyd is masterful and adds to the already melancholy feel of the movie. Unlike Fincher’s “Gone Girl”, the first Flynn novel to be adapted into film, “Dark Places” feels well… dark throughout it’s entire run time of 113 minutes. Paquet-Brenner’s aim to create that dark feel is helped by some terrific performances. Theron, though not what I pictured when I was reading the novel, is incredible as Libby. She is angry, brooding, and a little scared of what she might discover. It is quite the performance, but what would you expect from an oscar-winning actress? Hoult, Hendricks, and Stoll all give solid performances as well, but the one that stood out for me was Chloë Grace Moretz as Diondra, Ben’s semi-psychotic, satan-worshipping girlfriend. She has come a long way from hit girl.
“Dark Places” is definitely a thick-plotted movie. Full of twists, turns, strange characters, questionable motives, and hidden agendas. Some will dislike it for that, and others will find it’s dark tone and grisly subject matter difficult to swallow. I however thoroughly enjoyed it. It gave me an interesting story, wonderful acting, and excellent production. Did I enjoy it as much as “Gone Girl”? No, but come on… how many movies are THAT good?