- on Monday, 21 March 2016 13:53
- by Frank Wilkins
‘Tis a rare thing, nowadays, when Hollywood will throw a buck at something that doesn’t have a Roman numeral next to it, or you have to place ‘re’ in front of make, boot, imagined, or some other such gentle euphemism for GAURANTEED buck, so we’ll run with it. It’s a brave gamble, financially speaking, to go dark these days. The bean counters and focus groups get nervous at such tales, so did they pull it off?
Dark Places comes from that other well mined place of ideas, the ‘based on a novel’ mine. A dark and gritty thriller from author Gillian Flynn, the mind behind the rather well received Gone Girl. It tells the story of two, now grown, survivors of a Kansas City family massacre. Our damaged goods heroine Libby (Charlize Theron) has led a solitary unremarkable life since her brother Ben (Corey Stoll) was convicted of the murders. Running out of the goodwill of strangers’ donations, Libby accepts appearance money from a Murder Club fan named Lyle (Nicholas Hoult) to attend a true crime convention. It turns out no one is being honest. Lyle is in fact part of a group that believe Libby lied, and that her brother is covering for someone. Out of sheer desperation for money, Libby reluctantly goes down the rabbit hole with Lyle. The result is confronting for all involved, and will change their paths forever.
Much like Gone Girl, this world is inhabited by some deeply unhealthy (psychologically speaking) people. The mystery laid forth only serves to exacerbate their already fragile mindsets. As far as mysteries go, this one has many layers and provides a few decent twists throughout its heavy narrative. But it’s hard going to get to the twists when none of the characters are likable — not one of them. The consequences these characters accept, both before and after the murders, ask for huge leaps of faith and fail on the one basic principle any story needs – to make you care. When you have plot points that interweave devil worship, serial murder, psychopaths and family issues, it would be nice to invest in someone that elicits a bit of empathy. From a self-centred lead character to ugly or unrelatable support characters, the story’s sole compelling element, the layered plot, quickly loses its power, ending up as a hard to swallow train wreck
The film is shot beautifully, with a moody textured pallet. Writing, in spite of its characterisation, is punchy and crisp. The performers do remarkably well with their dour unlikable roles. I give points for trying to do something away from the modern play book, but this absolutely tanked at the box office, and I can see why. It’s a shame because taken in parts, there are some really good pieces, but combined the film just doesn’t deliver on its promises.
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing violence, language, drug use and sexual content
Runtime: 113 mins
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Writer: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks
Genre: Drama | Thriller
Tagline: In 1985, her entire family was murdered. 30 years later, the truth emerges
Memorable Movie Quote: "Don't be discouraged - every relationship you have is a failure, until you find the right one."
Official Site: http://darkplacesmovie.com/
Release Date: June 18, 2016 (internet)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: October 6, 2015
Synopsis: The sole survivor of a home invasion where she famously witnessed the death of her mother and sisters, Libby Day (Theron) lives with the knowledge that her testimony as a 7-year-old sentenced her brother to life in prison for the horrific crime. When a group of true-crime enthusiasts find Libby twenty-five years later and convince her to re-examine the events of the night, new memories and old suspects suddenly flood back into her life. As shocking information comes to light, Libby begins to question her own key testimony and sets out to discover the truth of her tragic past.
Available on Blu-ray - October 6, 2015
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: B/2
Pedestrian offering. This region B set gives you a slip case, and two nausea inducing featurettes on how clever everyone is, and how much admiration everyone has for everyone else. Banal.
Video presents a decent MPEG-4 AVC 1080p encode, which accurately reproduces the indy heavily filtered look the director went for. Decent 5.1 DTS-HD mix, nice LFE activity; centre is a bit soft in a few sequences, but overall does the job well.