Ungodly and sinister, Gillian Flynn's Dark Places is just as devilish as you hope.
When Libby Day (Charlize Theron) was just seven years old, she was the lone survivor of a brutal attack. Her family was viciously murdered in what the media claimed was a satanic occult sacrifice at their desolate farmhouse in Kansas. Her brother Ben, just fifteen at the time, was found to be guilty. Twenty-five years later, in desperate need of cash and with no way to get it except capitalize and exploit her seedy past, she allows an organization obsessed with real life murders to investigate the case with her help, as they hope to exonerate Ben. As she investigates her past, she opens old wounds and uncovers things about her life she had long since buried deep in her soul.
Not being able to speak of the novel, Dark Places as a film does a great job of leading you on myriad paths of misdirection. The audience desperately following leads and evidence to discover the truth of what happened that fateful night when a family was brutally murdered, leaving two surviving siblings left standing when the carnage stopped. The multi-layered story is well paced and realistically utilizes real life headlines for a believable interpretation of a despicably captivating crime.
Gillian Flynn and her fellow screenwriter of the adaptation, Gilles Paquet-Brenner, do a marvelous job of refusing to resort to lazy exposition, showing the audience rather than explaining to them. The result is an engaging mystery that garners your full attention in the hopes you might be able to deduce the truth of the heinously bloody murders. Paquet-Brenner does double duty in directing the film, and translates the subject matter with cohesively gritty and complementary cinematography.
It seems as though fans of the novel were a bit disappointed in the casting for this film, that Theron does not match the physicality of Flynn’s written description. Not knowing this fact, Charlize Theron is flawless as the tortured lead Libby. Her Libby and the medley of supporting characters are fully formed and tangibly gripping, matching the brutal content of the film.
Dark Places is a satisfying mystery that tells of savage desperation and sadistic cold-hearted murder. Given the weak and bland thrillers of recent years that shy away from the truly horrifying callous of human nature, fans of the genre should be pleased.
Dark Places – Movie Review