Friday, October 16, 2015

Dark Places Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Academy Award winner Charlize Theron (Best Actress, Monster, 2003) stars in Dark Places, arriving on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD) and DVD (plus Digital) October 6 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Dark Places delves into the tragic life of a woman who survived the brutal killing of her family as a child and is forced to confront the events of that day to find out the truth. Libby Day (Charlize Theron) was only seven years old when her mother and two sisters were murdered and her brother Ben (Tye Sheridan, Joe) was jailed for the crime. Now, twenty-five years later, Libby discovers shocking evidence that Ben may be innocent—and the real killer is still at large. Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road), ChloĆ« Grace Moretz (If I Stay), Sterling Jerins (World War Z), Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) and Christina Hendricks (TV’s “Mad Men”) costar in this ingeniously plotted thriller based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl).
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
When she was eight years old, Libby Day became the only survivor of a late night massacre that killed her mother and two sisters. Her brother was arrested and convicted of the murders and has spent the last 28 years in prison. Libby has lived in her own prison, living in a cluttered house that she’s behind in her rent on, money is running out and she has no way to get more. She receives a letter from a “fan” inviting her to come talk to his “kill group,” a group that is interest in true crime. She meets with Lyle and for $700 agrees to allow them to pick her brain. However, when she arrives, she realizes many of them are weird freaks and the group she talks to is trying to find evidence that her brother is innocent and get him out of prison. 

Libby agrees to visit her brother in prison and after she sees him for the first time in 28 years, she begins wondering if what she saw that night was what she actually saw or if she made it up. Libby and Lyle start investigating the people who were around her family at the time and even wondering about her mother and father. As evidence clearing her brother mounts, Libby focuses on finding his ex-girlfriend who disappeared the day after the murders. When Libby finally finds her, she realizes that she isn’t as innocent as she seems and before she can leave the house, Libby receives a call from Lyle telling her he’s figured out what really happened that night. However, before Libby leaves, she is attacked and escapes into the woods. Libby hides in the woods and is finally found by Lyle who tells her the whole story of what actually happened the might her mother and sisters were killed.

There are a couple of twists that I didn’t want to give away, so I kept my summary pretty vague. I watched this a couple of days ago and wasn’t sure how much I enjoyed it then, but after letting it sit in my mind and giving it some time, I like it much more than I did. The story is really interesting and I liked how it was told. The split between past and present really told the story and gave good background and explanations of what was going on in the present. I’ve been interested in reading the book for a while and once I do, I hope that the movie stayed true to the book.

All the actors were great in their roles; I thought Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult were cast really well as Libby and Lyle and I thought Chloe Grace Moretz was really good as Diondra, the ex-girlfriend when she was young. The direction was great and after watching the special features, I liked the movie even more. I didn’t notice any gaps in the story and I thought that it all flowed really well. 
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p high definition widescreen presentation of Dark Places is good. Colors are muted and blacks are accurate and the picture was clear. There were not visible issues with the picture and transitions were smooth. It was nothing spectacular, but good enough. 
Audio (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I was disappointed in the English 5.1 DTF-HD master audio. The volume was really uneven and I had to keep the remote in my hand in order to adjust the sound from low to high. There were moments when I considered turning on the English SDH subtitles, just so I could be sure of what was being said. 
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I like that there was a disclaimer before both of the features saying to watch the movie first to avoid spoilers. I’ve never seen that before. The features themselves were interesting; I just wish there were more. 
  • Bringing Dark Places to Light (23:08) – Behind the scenes with the cast, the crew and Gillian Flynn, the writer of the book. Everyone talks about the story, their characters and making the movie. 
  • About the Author: Gillian Flynn & Dark Places (9:16) – A profile on the author of the book, Gillian Flynn. She talks about how she got her ideas and what influenced her in the writing of the book.
  • Trailers (10:47) – The trailers from the beginning of the disc.
  • Bookmarks – Ugh, that weird feature again. Stop it, Lionsgate.
Summary (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Overall, I thought Dark Places was a good movie. I liked the story, I like the actors and their characters, I just was not impressed with the audio or the special features. While the special features were interesting, there could have been more. While the picture was just okay, I wish it could have been a bit crisper. Knowing this story come from best-selling author Gillian Flynn, who also wrote Gone Girl, I plan on picking up the book and reading it, then re-watching the movie to see what changes to the story were made. Dark Places is recommended with the caveat that the picture and audio could be better. Either hold the remote in your hand while watching, or turn on the subtitles so you are sure you don’t miss anything important.

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