Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


DARK PLACES (2015). Director/writer: Gilles Paquet-Brenner.

Libby Day (Charlize Theron) was a child when her brother, Ben, murdered his mother and his two other siblings; she was the only survivor. Years later she is contacted by Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult), head of an organization called the Kill Club, one division of which tries to solve crimes. Wirth and his colleagues feel that Ben (Corey Stoll of Ant-Man) might have been innocent. Could it have been their drunk, nasty father, Runner (Sean Bridgers) who did the deed, or some of young Ben's (Tye Sheridan) associates? Based on a novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote Gone Girl, this has intriguing aspects to it and a solution that is far-fetched, to say the least. The movie is also a bit slow, and lacks the taut suspense that it needs (except for the climax). Charlize Theron [Prometheus] is okay in the lead, but no more than that, although there is some vivid acting from Chloe Grace Moretz [Carrie] and Andrea Roth, who plays Ben's girlfriend Diondra at different points in her life. Bridgers is quite effective as Runner, and Hoult [Jack the Giant Slayer] is fine as Lyle even though his part is very under-written. Tye Sheridan is very good as young Ben. Few of the characters in this are especially sympathetic or likable.

Verdict: Minor-league suspenser when all is said and done. **1/2.

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