Dark Places Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan. Directed by Giles Paquet-Brenner. Rated R. Opens Friday; also available on VOD.
Thanks to the success of Gone Girl, writer Gillian Flynn has become a hot commodity, but the film adaptation of her earlier novel Dark Places doesn’t have the spark of David Fincher’s thriller. French filmmaker Gilles Paquet-Brenner writes and directs the story of Libby Day (Charlize Theron), who witnessed the murders of her mother and two sisters when she was seven years old. Thirty years later, her brother Ben (played by Tye Sheridan as a teenager and Corey Stoll as an adult) is in prison for the crimes, but an amateur sleuthing club recruits a reluctant Libby to help prove his innocence.
Dark Places is a much more straightforward murder mystery than Gone Girl, with an intriguing but less complex female protagonist. Its twists come off as more absurd than shocking, and while Paquet-Brenner builds some effective atmosphere around rural poverty and cult paranoia, the themes are secondary to the mystery, and both are ultimately unsatisfying.