'Dark Places': Great cast, shallow style

Dark Places, adapted for the screen and directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, is Hollywood's latest take on the novels of writer Gillian Flynn.

The film starts out with a cool third-person black and white view through the eyes of a young Libby Day. The present day Libby (Charlize Theron) wakes up from what appears to be a nightmare. The Day family was murdered in an alleged satanic cult ritual, where Libby and her brother Ben were the only survivors. Libby Day is now close to broke and has little left in the way of money or having people take pity on her situation, because there are new victims of hardship. This is until Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult) gets in contact and invites Libby to the Kill Club, a place where people reenact murders and crimes in order to shed new light and solve them. As much as Libby voices her strong reservations puts up her barriers, Lyle proceeds to pay her to find the truth about her family's gruesome murder. Libby and Lyle travel down in the darkness as she visits the man accused of the murder, Ben Day (Corey Stoll). There are flashbacks to the events leading up to the murder, and the ongoing investigation that Libby and Lyle are conducting. There are many twists and turns, including the fact that Ben Day might not be the only one involved in the murder.

I would like to highlight the two great performances by Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult. Theron gave a great performance as Libby, the strong individualistic female, and Hoult was successful as the mysterious, shady, and socially awkward character Lyle. Dark Places helped me understand why Libby is strong compared to her brother Ben Day; even his girlfriend Diondra (Chloë Grace Moretz) never failed to put Ben down as not being manly enough.

My review may be a bit biased, however, because I believe that last year's Gone Girl (directed by David Fincher) was a better adaptation of Flynn's work. Paquet-Brenner tried to capture the chilling dark tones of the novel, but his filmmaking style resembled a made-for-television "who done it" murder mystery. This aesthetic drew me out of the movie I was watching on screen. Dark Places lacked in style and seemed to be going through the motions of recreating the crime and trying to solve it. It would have been better as a made-for-television movie, or perhaps a miniseries where there is time to flesh out the characters and the story.

Rating: 3/5


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