Saturday, August 8

Guest Post: Why Dark Places Doesn't Live Up to Its Predecessor, Gone Girl

I would all like you to give another warm welcome to my guest here at CRR's!

Maria is a writer interested in comic books, cycling, and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling, and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.

Why Dark Places Doesn't Live Up to Its Predecessor, Gone Girl

Gillian Flynn, the award-winning author of Gone Girl, is no stranger to exploring the dark psychological elements of human nature. The novel’s film adaptation, directed by David Fincher, was released in theaters in 2014 and was an overnight success. Grossing over $368 million worldwide, the movie was nominated for several awards, and garnered mostly positive reviews from critics and fans alike. The widespread success of Gone Girl has established Flynn as a shining star in the psychological thriller genre, so it was really just a matter of time before another adaptation of one of her books was in the works.

Following the success of Gone Girl, high expectations were set for the upcoming film Dark Places, an adaptation of Flynn's 2009 novel of the same name. Dark Places tells the story of Libby Day (Charlize Theron), the sole survivor of the gruesome murder of her family 25 years prior. As a child Libby testified against her brother, Ben (Corey Stoll), while under pressure from lawyers and the media resulting in him being convicted for the murders. Present-day Libby is in desperate need of cash, and agrees to speak to members of “The Kill Club," an organization dedicated to solving cold cases, after meeting Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult). The Kill Club believes Ben is innocent and was wrongly imprisoned, leading Libby to question what she has believed to be the truth all these years and begin her own investigation into the events that occurred that night. As Libby interviews people from both her and her brother's past, she realizes the truth is more twisted than anyone ever thought.

Directed and written by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, Dark Places has received mixed to negative reviews from critics so far. While Gone Girl was wildly successful, it is clear that Dark Places just doesn't live up to its predecessor on the big screen. The most significant difference between the novel and the film is the lack of Libby's internal monologue in the film. One of the novel's biggest strengths is Libby's wry and cynical commentary, which is largely absent from the film except for the beginning and end. Other than this omission, the film is mostly faithful to the novel. While Gillian Flynn did not have the level of involvement in Dark Places as she did in Gone Girl, she says that she thinks fans will approve of the adaptation and that she especially liked the decision to cast Theron as Libby Day. While it’s obvious Theron does not resemble the redheaded novel-Libby, she is still an excellent portrayal of the female protagonist due to her stellar acting skills and ability to bring Day to life. With a cast also including Christina Hendricks and ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, Dark Places has no shortage of talented actors.

Premiering in theaters August 7th, the film has been available through DirecTV VOD since June, giving many fans an exclusive look. Even so, and despite its fidelity, many critics and fans are still disappointed in the film for several reasons. Besides the perceived lack of Libby's perspective, some feel that the film simply has too much going on and that the content of the novel was too much to cram into a two-hour film. Others are disappointed because they think that the film does not achieve the novel's uniquely Midwestern atmosphere of poverty and depression, especially since it was mostly filmed in Louisiana. However, cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker, Captain Phillips) does boost the quality of the film quite a bit by imbuing it with an appropriately glum color palette and dreamy photography. While Dark Places is similar to Gone Girl in regard to its dark subject matter, it fails to deliver the entrancing story level and thrill Gone Girl so successfully captivated audiences with.


Blodeuedd said...

I have not seen Gone girl so...I think they are not for me

Anachronist said...

I didn't like Gone Girl so this one is perhaps also not for me.

Carole Rae said...

Thank you Maria! :D