Latest movie watched here in the shadows was the 2015 crime mystery thriller, directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner (“Sarah’s Key”, “UV”), called “Dark Places”.
As was the case with the successful 2014 thriller movie “Gone Girl”, “Dark Places” is an adaptation of a novel by author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn. “Dark Places” was Flynn’s second novel, and was first published in 2009. The screen adaptation was penned by Pacquet-Brenner.
The story is based in a small farming town in the American state of Kansas, and centres around events that took placed thirty years ago, one night in 1985, when Patty Day (Christina Hendricks – “Lost River”, “Mad Men”) and two of her daughters were murdered in their farm home. Only young daughter Libby (Sterling Jerins – “The Conjuring”, “World War Z”) and her teenage brother Ben (Tye Sheridan – “The Tree Of Life”, “The Forger”) survived.
Although she didn’t see the murders take place, Libby is convinced to testify against her brother and her testimony is crucial in Ben being convicted and imprisoned for the murders, which the authorities believed to be related to a Satanic cult ritual.
In 2015 the grown-up Libby (Charlize Theron – “Mad Max : Fury Road”, “The Devil’s Advocate”) has spent the past thirty years living off donations from sympathetic members of the public and proceeds from her ghost-written survivor’s memoir, but the cash is running out fast.
Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult – “Warm Bodies”, “Jack The Giant Slayer”), a member of a small group of amateur investigators “The Kill Club” who look into past murder cases, invites Libby to talk to the group, for a fee, about her experience and encourages her to reconsider what happened that fateful night.
The action switches backwards and forwards between 2015 and 1985 as further details are gradually revealed.
Libby reluctantly agrees to visit Ben (Corey Stoll – “Ant-Man”, “This Is Where I Leave You”) in prison for the first time since his conviction.
Through a series of flashbacks we are introduced to other characters relevant to the story, including Ben’s girlfriend Diondra Wertzner (Chloë Grace Moretz – “The Equalizer”, “Carrie”) who dabbled in Satanism, Krissi Cates (Addy Miller – “Plan 9”, “Remnants”) a classmate of his who accused him of molesting her, not to mention the father of the family, Runner Day (Sean Bridgers – “Jug Face”, “Deadwood”), who was absent from the family home leaving Patty to try to keep the farm afloat, and is now missing.
Libby and Lyle track down the grown-up Diondra (Andrea Roth – “A Golden Christmas”, “Rescue Me”) and Krissi (Drea De Matteo – “Sons Of Anarchy”, “The Sopranos”) and piece by piece the complicated, and perhaps unlikely, truth gradually emerges.
The film touches on the Satanic ritual abuse panic that spread throughout the US as well as the UK during the 1980s and early 1990s, but also has elements of drug use, teenage pregnancy, parental absence, child abuse and paints a thoroughly depressing picture for pretty much everyone involved.
Theron is decent enough as the grown-up Libby, but I was most impressed by Sheridan as the angry and confused teenage Ben and Moretz as the dark and manipulative teenage Diondra.
This isn’t in any way an uplifting tale, but it is fairly gripping and certainly gritty…