Thursday, August 13, 2015

[Review] Dark Places

Gone Girl was one of the more twisted and intriguing films of last year (it ranked Top 5 in my Top 25 Films of 2014 list). This year brings another feature adapted from a Gillian Flynn novel, called Dark Places. I doubt anyone expected this to match Gone Girl's greatness, but what's so disappointing is just exactly how far it falls short of it.

Libby (Charlize Theron) was 7 years old when her family was murdered within their own home. In turn, Libby was orphaned and grew up living off income from other people's donations and a tell-all book. Now an adult for many years, she's at a loss for what to do, and it isn't surprising that she's been left with trauma and trust issues. It's an interesting thing to think about--all the survivors of these grisly "48 Hours" and "Dateline" crimes--Where Are They Now? Here, it just so happens that the mystery of Libby's family remained unsolved, and for the first time, she decides to revisit the scene of the crime in order to uncover new details about the brutal murder.

The story itself isn't as shocking and batshit insane as Gone Girl, and there just isn't an engaging enough pull or intrigue to it, and a film of this nature obviously needs that. And of course, the film doesn't possess David Fincher's keen direction, illuminating the shadows. In Gone Girl, the voiceover narration was blunt, insightful, poetic, and it enhanced the madness. But here, it's essentially a bland handhold. There's just something sloppy about the entire film, and there's no wonder why it didn't have a significant backing for its theater release.

Dark Places can be slotted into the category of bad films excellent casts. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult both recently appeared together in one of the year's best films in Mad Max: Fury Road. It's fairly pointless to compare the films since they're so different, but you might end up daydreaming about the exhilarating desert storms and blistering action the two stars engaged in during Fury Road. Budding newcomer Tye Sheridan (Mud, Joe) shows up in an underwhelming role, along with Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, and Chloe Grace Moretz. We've seen all these people work wonders in other settings, but in Dark Places the performances don't really rise up off the sketchy script, and any tense conflict or chemistry is virtually non-existent.

Dark Places is more dull than compelling.


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