As most people know, since it was stated in every summary and trailer of the film, Dark Places comes from the same writer that brought us Gone Girl, both the film and novel. And while Gillian Flynn wrote both novels that were turned into films, Dark Places doesn’t end with a total head trip. (I mean this as a good thing.) This may have dealt with how different the themes were within the two works. Gone Girl was about marriage, while Dark Places centered around family. Let me rewind for a moment before I talk about the ending and how it took home the film’s core theme.
The story takes place 25 years after, Libby Day’s, played by Charlize Theron, sisters and mother were murdered one night when she was eight. Her older brother Ben Day, played Corey Stoll, was charged for the deaths and sentenced to life in prison. Although it becomes clear that the case against him was shaky, he has never even tried to appeal for a new trial, something Libby thinks is a sure sign he’s guilty.
In flashbacks, we see the day before the murder of the Day family and the events that lead to it. Ben is into some weird stuff, accused of child rape because of satanism, and his girlfriend says she is pregnant with his baby. Mom is poor, about to lose the family farm, finds out that her son is accused of raping children, and later finds baby clothes in her son’s room, which she burns in horror.
Meanwhile, in the present day Libby is broke and desperate enough for money that she lets a group called the Kill Club — no idea who thought that was a good name — pay her to help them prove her brother is innocent. While she at first believes wholeheartedly that her brother killed her family, she goes on a quest to find the truth and lay this issue to rest. The KIll Club treasurer, played by Nicholas Hoult and who never seems to have normal friends in his roles, pushes Libby to find answers, because he believes her brother didn’t kill anyone.
A small side story is the Kill Club’s quest to find a serial killer dubbed “The Angel of Debt,” who helps financially down people kill themselves in ways that look like accidents or home invasions. One or two lines are spent on this early in the film, and it’s left rather untouched until close to the end.
There are a couple twists and turns that take us to the ending of the film where mother and son see the true meaning of what it means to sacrifice for the ones they love, particularly their children. Ben is innocent of killing his family but goes to jail for nearly 30 years to protect a child he’s never met and the woman that gave birth to her. The mom in debt lets herself die in order for her children to collect her life insurance, never knowing that two of her daughters would also die that night. Libby learns to forgive her brother for lying about the death of her family, herself for lying when she said she saw her brother kill them, and her mom for letting it all happen. In the end, she’s able to finally let go and move on, to live a life rather than let herself stay trapped in that day.
This film is everything right with a Lifetime movie without all the clichés that ruin most Lifetime films. What does that mean? Well, it means that the film shows strong females overcoming horrible events without the male bashing that sometimes comes with strong female films. Here, we have nasty women and horrible men, both are liars. We also have great, smart females that try their best to solve their own problems by themselves and men that want to do the right thing without looking stupid. No one is perfect and no one tries to be. Dark Places will never make you wonder about the family next door or shock you like Gone Girl, but it is a worth the hour viewing. I rate it a good 7 out of 10.
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Photos for Dark Places Review are courtesy of IMDb.com