Dark Places is about Libby Day (Charlize Theron), whose family was brutally murdered on their Kansas farm. Her brother was charged for the crime at the age sixteen. Libby’s confused confession and rumors of devil worship landed him in jail for the past twenty-five years. Libby has begun to run out of the donation money she’s lived on her whole life, and out of desperation she agrees to be interviewed by the “kill club.” Its members are obsessed with studying famous murder cases, and Lyle Wirth’s (Nicolas Hoult) favorite is the Day family murder case. As Libby begins to dive deeper into the details of the crime, she begins to uncover hidden truths about her whole family.
This movie was based on Gillian Flynn’s novel; she also wrote Gone Girl, which made it all the more appealing.
The cast has stellar actors and actresses. I mean, Charlize Theron is the lead. Other great talents such as Nicolas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christina Hendricks, and Tye Sheridan accompany Theron. Shannon Kook had a minor role too–in case you didn’t know, he was “Zane” on Canadian TV Show Degrassi, so that made me excited.
Anyway, the cast made my expectations rise, so I went in expecting a lot from this film.
The trailer hinted that there was much more to this murder story than met the eye. I went in assuming that it hadn’t really been the brother who had been in prison all those years and that maybe it had been Libby herself who had repressed memories of that night. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it’s definitely more twisted and tragic than you expect. I thoroughly enjoyed how the story took me on a road of connecting the dots little by little to solve this case. That was probably about my only favorite part of the movie.
Theron, unfortunately, didn’t have much range in this movie. She was a troubled woman stuck with many issues from her warped and traumatic memories. But most of the time she just acted like a lost puppy or like a huge tomboy, threatening whoever got near her. With such a complex character story, she could’ve definitely given more depth in her performance. So, though she was the lead, she by no means blew me away. The most she got out of me was a chuckle for her cursing at adorable Lyle (Hoult). I’m not sure how he does it, but Hoult is incredibly charming even as the treasurer of a club that has members cosplaying as serial killers.
Now, Chloe Grace Moretz–what is there to say about this girl? She’s good at what she does, and her creepier roles are some of her best. Her most memorable scene was when she slaughtered a cow with a machete as a sacrifice to Satan (yeah, this movie lives up to its name of “dark”). All of the emotions Theron was lacking, Moretz displayed to the fullest.
The movie dragged for a great chunk and almost made me lose interest on multiple occasions. If the pace of the story had been faster, the effect of its ending would probably been much more powerful. The story was told going back and forth using flashbacks. It wasn’t a terrible technique, but it may annoy some. In fact, at some points it was even distracting. I got so caught up following the different sequences of events between present day and the 80s when the crime occurred that I missed the movie’s major theme that connected to the solution of the crime.
I left the theater with a mix of emotions towards Dark Places. It was not a terrible story whatsoever, and that is one of the main reasons I really liked it much more than the average person may. However, its slow pace and inability to keep me focused made it lose points in my book. At the end of the movie, it seems like many of the scenes used were pretty unnecessary to the development of the story and therefore a waste of time to create a climax.
In conclusion, Dark Places does not deliver to the level of expectations that its trailer created for viewers.
Theron was disappointing. The writers and director could really have done much more with such a twisted book. I would not pay to see it again, but I would recommend it to a friend to watch if it’s been played on TV.