Review: Dark Places

Dark Places is a neo noir written for the screen and directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner. Paquet-Brenner shot this in only 25 days, reminding me what some of the directors did in the classic film noir days for B-movies. Charlize Theron is the producer and star of this film. This is based on the book written by Gillian Flynn.

I read this book awhile ago, but found the movie followed the book pretty well from what I remember. Sure a few things are missing and shortened up for sake of time, but overall felt the movie is a nice companion to the book.

The story starts with a down and out Libby Day played by Theron. She is the survivor of a massacre when she was a child. The rest of her family was killed and her brother put in prison for the crime. Her brother is played by Corey Stoll in the present day and by Tye Sheridan in the flashback scenes. Libby, desperate for money goes to an event where people try to solve past crimes. This meeting is called the Kill Club. The group is fascinated with her families case and feel her brother is innocent. Nicholas Hoult plays the main member of the Kill Club interested in Libby’s case. The story continues as Libby goes to see her brother in prison and starts to look into the case herself with the Kill Club’s help. We get half the story in flashbacks as we learn what Libby’s brother was doing the day of the murders. The flashbacks have Christina Hendricks as Libby’s mom and Chloë Grace Moretz as the brother’s girlfriend.

This film has a lot of twists and turns as new discoveries are made and finishes with an ending hard to see coming. I liked the way they used 1980’s heavy metal music and the public’s growing fear of its influence on youth and the satanic symbolism that it used. I’m not sure if Flynn was inspired by the case of The West Memphis Three when she wrote this book, but it seems to have similarities to that case.

This film is very noir in story but Paquet-Brenner also used a lot of film noir technique in this film, one scene is even in black and white! The filming at night with the use of shadow and light are very film noir in style through most of the flashback scenes.

I really liked this book, maybe even more then Gone Girl, and found the film very well done and I enjoyed it a lot. I think fans of the book will find the movie worth seeing. I also think neo-noir and mystery lovers will enjoy it too. If you are lucky enough to have DirecTV you can watch it now on pay per view, if you don’t, it will be in theaters in August.

Favorite Tidbit: Look for the author of the book Gillian Flynn in a cameo as Lizzy Borden in the Kill Club scene.