Dark Places | Film review - Gone Girl author's mystery thriller delivers suspense, intrigue and contrivance

Dark Places Charlize Theron.jpg
(Image credit: 2014 DAMSELFISH HOLDINGS, LLC A)

Based on another page-turner by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, mystery thriller Dark Places can’t match its predecessor for throat-grabbing suspense but delivers its own share of intrigue and menace.

Despite looking nothing like the book’s tormented protagonist, Charlize Theron is suitably haunted as the grown-up survivor of a family massacre 30 years earlier that left her debt-ridden single mother (Christina Hendricks, excellent) and two sisters dead and her teenage brother jailed for life on the suspect testimony of her seven-year-old self. Now true-crime buff Nicholas Hoult and the morbid crew of geeks in his Kill Club want her to revisit this horrifying episode and help them re-open the case and exonerate her brother (Corey Stoll).

Seen in flashback, the events leading up to the slayings (which also feature Chloë Grace Moretz’s thrill-seeking rich girl and a strand of Satanic panic) are fittingly twisty and dark, but the plot’s eventual resolution in the present-day is too contrived to be fully satisfying.

Certificate 15. Runtime 113 mins. Director Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Dark Places is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download courtesy of Entertainment One.


Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.