Dark Places is a strange film. It’s not the sort of thriller that we are used to. It doesn’t give an overwhelming mystery to solve and then subsequently shocks you out of your wits with an unimaginable finale. What you have here is a slow burning fuse which takes you in many directions before settling for the climax. The film has its share of flaws, the biggest of which is the amount of time it takes to arrive at the point and also the fact that the climax is not what you might expect. But for all those who loved “Gone Girl” and the way the story unfolds in fractured timelines, Dark Places will be a worthy watch.
The story revolves around Libby Day (Charlize Theron), a victim of a dreadful incident. When she was eight, she watched her brother butcher her whole family but escaped his wrath somehow. She testified against her brother and he is put off for a life sentence. Now, in her thirties, she is all broke and doesn’t have any charity that she was living off to go on with. She is contacted by a guy called Lyle (Nicholas Hoult) who invites her over to their society called, “The Kill Club”, which is highly interested in solving and taking a second look at famous crimes. Libby happens to be one of their most interesting subjects.
As she is practically broke and needs the money that Lyle has to offer, she reluctantly agrees to revisit the crime scene, meet with her indicted brother Ben(Corey Stoll) as well as offer her insight into what might have happened on that fateful night. Revisiting the crime, Libby uncovers certain facts which make her rethink what had happened that night. She cannot help but feel that her brother might not have murdered her family in the first place. The rest of the film is about how Libby uncovers the deep dark secrets which might have led to the heinous crime that happened at her house that night. She also has to uncover the reasons that have kept her brother quite this long.
The film builds up wonderfully. The story is engrossing even though it takes a while to get to the point. For many, the slow pace may actually be a plus as it gives time to connect with the characters. The story unfolds in two tracks. While the present involves Libby revisiting the crime and meeting with the people involved so as to find any new link, the flashback shows us the lives of the Days with Libby as a kid. Both the stories culminate together in a fitting climax. While the audience is busy unmasking the killer, the climax takes you totally in a different direction all together. Here some may agree with me that the finale was a heartbreaking affair. While I couldn’t think of any better ending, there may be many who might not particularly like what they see.
Charlize Theron is always a superb act. Her character here is present in almost every scene of the movie. She chose a role for herself that would have her in focus. I say “she chose” because she co-produces this film. She is wonderful in her essay and leaves no room for any complaints. Chloë Grace Moretz as the young Diondra, a key figure, who might have more to do with the tragedy than what may appear, is sensational. She has been a class act before too, but here she is the devil reincarnated. The way her character molds people according to her wish is a treat to watch. Nicholas Hoult has a shortish role but he does justice to it. The rest of the cast play their bits with efficiency.
This here is a film which is not exactly the run of the mills thriller or horror. If you are to enjoy this film, you need to give yourself in to the narrative. I was pretty happy with the way the film worked. It may not be another Gone Girl, but it does have its set of pros to merit a view or two. Theron spirited act, Moretz’s stunning essay and a more than engrossing story are some of the reasons which makes this a must watch. Give it a watch and you might just find your reason to watch this one.