Libby Day (Charlize Theron) was eight years old in 1985 when her two sisters and mother were killed and her brother Ben convicted of the crime. The case gained national attention and people from all over the country sent her money that was managed in a Trust. At present Libby is no longer a cute little girl and the trust is down to $482.12. At the films opening Libby is discussing the Trust with the fund manager who advises that if she had taken any time of job over the last 10 years to contribute some funds to the Trust it would have been much healthier. Now broke Libby receives a mysterious letter from a Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult). He is a member of the Kill Club that wants Libby to appear as a special gusts. The club re enacts famous killing and reviews cold or controversial cases. Libby agrees as she needs the money but is not prepared for their passionate plea that her brother Ben did not do the killings.
The club want Libby to help them go back over the facts and meet with her brother to discuss the case. She's three months behind in her rent plus her car is stuck in the shop so as she takes them up on their offer. The club sends her the file, she goes to visit her brother becomes intrigued by the documents and some items found in the family farmhouse and starts her investigation.
Dark Places is based on a Gillian Flynn best settling novel following the 2014 David Fincher adaptation of her movie Gone Girl. Director Gilles Paquet- Brenner's screenplay looks at the modern day investigation by Libby assisted by Wirth juxtaposed to the days leading up to the night of the murders in 1985. The jail house meetings between the siblings are intense expertly filmed and cut. Adult Ben (Corey Stoll) calmness when looking at the person that put him in prison is remarkable. The narrative also peaks depicting the relationship between young Ben (Tye Sheridan) and his girlfriend Diondra (Chloe Grace Mortez) documenting how mesmerized young Ben was by his rich unbalanced teen companion.
Charlize Theron turns in a hard-edged performance as Libby Day. She is still traumatized from the 1985 events, often wakes up from nightmares, doesn't want anyone in her personal space, is angry all the time and dresses like she's been in a garage fixing cars all day. Both the younger and older Ben's balance each other well. Sheridan as the younger where he is still a follower to older kids but can be an intimidating loner to pre and early teens. Stoll as the older with his quiet acceptance of his fate showing no anger or malice to anyone or anything.
Dark Places is a rich narrative that builds slowly to the events of the fateful 1985 evening. The screenplay places little clues throughout that lay the seeds for how individuals act on the night of the killings. It's a compelling story and a film I can recommend.
*** Out of 4.
Dark Places | Gilles Paquet- Brenner | UK/France/USA | 2015 | 113 minutes.
Tags: Kansas, Murdered Family, Satan Worship, Trust Fund, Post Traumatic Stress, Crime Groupies, Jail House Visits, Failing Farm, Gillian Flynn Novel.