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Movie Breakdown: Dark Places (Noah)

August 5, 2015

Film

The Impression:

Even though this film has a solid cast (Charlize Theron, Corey Stoll, Nicolas Hoult) and is the second film based on one of Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn’s work, it’s registered nary a blip of hype. So it’s either a sleeper hit waiting to happen or a big old pile of darkly tinged horse poo.

The Reality:

In the wake of Gone Girl’s massive success (both in literary and David Fincher directed-form) you know every studio, everywhere is trying to get their greasy little hands on any one of the two other books Ms. Flynn has written. Sharp Objects, her first novel, is already in line for the television treatment, and, well, Dark Places will arrive in a theater near you this very Friday. You’d think that because of the lack of material to draw from that any film released in the shadow of Fincher’s Gone Girl would strive to be that excellent. But no. Dark Places is a rushed, cheaply made, badly acted, badly written, piece of midsummer cash grab that somehow manages to make even Gillian Flynn’s melodramatic scrawling seem brilliant. 30 years ago, Libby Day (Charlize Theron looking like Tig Notaro trying to impersonate Kristen Stewart) escaped her house while her whole family was murdered, aside from her brother who’s spent 28 years of his life behind bars for the killings. You know that her life has been hard because Libby Day narrates almost the entirety of the first forty minutes of the film, ensuring you that every emotion that a film could show on screen, is instead told to you. Is Libby Day feeling sad? She’ll tell yah. Is Libby Day feeling scared? You better believe it’s going to get narrated. And then, just when you’ve gotten used to hearing Charlize Theron tell you everything, she stops, she just leaves you like a child in the desert with no guide at all. Anyways, so Libby Day is a shitty mean person who has done bad things (though mostly in this film she just gets roughed up by old drunks and crazy little girls) and she’s broke and maybe a hoarder and she gets contacted by a group called the Kill Club who want her help exonerating her brother for the murders of her family. Well, not all is what it seems and it takes two hours for director Gilles Paquet-Brenner to drag Libby Day and the audience through a whole bunch of convoluted plot twists and paper-thin characters (who appear and disappear as the plot dictates) before announcing that. Beyond anything though, Dark Places just looks bad. Perhaps they were attempting to do a cheap-on-purpose sort of visual aesthetic, but what they’ve crammed onto screens feels like one part Paranormal Activity, one part direct-to-video garbage. This is a quickly tossed together cash grab parading as an actual film. Treat it thusly.

The Lesson:

I’ve learned that I’m not sold on Chloe Moretz. This whole b-grade True Blood “vamp” character she’s always portraying is ill-fitting and unpleasant. Please remove her from all movies going forward. Thank you!

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