Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Film Review: Dark Places (2015)

Dark Places (Review)
United States/United Kingdom/France/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a chilling film with some engaging mystery elements."

Libby Day (Charlize Theron), the sole survivor of her family's massacre, revisits the crime 28 years after the fact and discovers some grisly revelations about that night...

Dark Places follows Libby Day, an unemployed person who seemingly does nothing all day. Libby survived the massacre of her family at the suspected hands of her older brother, Ben; she even testifies against him. As an adult, she relies on the money sent to her from sympathetic people as well as the earnings from her book. With her funds running low, she's forced to take up some kind of work. She accepts an offer from a Lyle Wyrth to make an appearance at his true crime club for $700. At this club, she discovers a group of people who are convinced Ben did not murder his family. Libby is reluctant, but, in need of cash and closure, she agrees to reopen her old wounds and find the truth about that night. This is a crime-mystery, so I won't bother spoiling anything else. It leads to an underwhelming climax and ending, though.


Before I delve deeper into this review, you should know: I haven't read the book so I have no bias against the film.

Dark Places is a decent movie. As a crime-mystery film, it worked in keeping me engaged. I was never bored and I never drifted away. It kept me hooked from beginning to end. As the title states, the plot takes you into some dark places. These dark places create an ominous atmosphere that allow the mystery to captivate. The characters are flawed and often unbearably annoying, but they have some depth, which I can also appreciate. Dark Places isn't perfect, though. In fact, it can be disappointing at times. In particular, the entire final act felt rushed and underwhelming. Suddenly, things become so much easier for our protagonist. In other words, it doesn't even try to hide its glaring plot contrivances. It's all so painfully convenient. There are other small details that make me feel like the entire plot wasn't thought out. I don't know if it's like this in the novel, but it certainly felt like it during the film.

The acting was mostly decent. Charlize Theron appears to be playing a moody teenager. Nicholas Hoult gives his performance a little more energy, though. Tye Sheridan was great, as usual. The film was shot well, too. The music blended well with the film, but it's not a soundtrack that I would bother to listen to on its own. The film was written for the screen and directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner. Gilles works well as a director, keeping the audience engaged through his seamless storytelling and ominous atmosphere. As a writer, the film ends up falling short. The ending felt rushed and underwhelming, as I already stated. I think some characters were miscast, too.

Overall, Dark Places is a good movie. It's a chilling film with some engaging mystery elements. It ultimately disappointed me, but it might be impress you. At its core, though, it is undoubtedly a solid, well-made film.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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