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Blu-ray Review Dark Places Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director

    Apr 24, 2006
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Matt Hough
    XenForo Template Dark Places Blu-ray Review

    Gilles Paquet-Brenner brings another Gillian Flynn mystery to the screen with Dark Places. Like Gone Girl with its twisting plot, unpredictable characters, and time schisms, Dark Places tells a mostly somber, disquieting story. The acting is quite wonderful throughout, and while the direction is rather pedestrian, the film still manages to hold one’s attention waiting for those breath-catching revelations that one knows are coming.

    Cover Art

    Studio: Lionsgate

    Distributed By: N/A

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

    Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA

    Subtitles: English, Spanish

    Rating: R

    Run Time: 1 Hr. 53 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraViolet

    keep case in a slipcover

    Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

    Region: A

    Release Date: 10/06/2015

    MSRP: $24.99

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    The lone survivor of a 1985 mother-two daughters slaughter titled the Kansas Prairie Massacre, Libby Day (Sterling Jerins as a child, Charlize Theron as an adult) has been living off of the life insurance and generous donations to her care fund for twenty-eight years, but the money is all gone, and now she’s not sure what to do. An inquiry from Lyle Wirth representing The Kill Club, a group of amateurs and professionals who gather to solve unsolvable crimes, offers the promise of some much-needed money for Libby, so she meets the group and hears them out. They’re of the opinion that Libby’s brother Ben (Tye Sheridan as a teen, Corey Stoll as an adult) sitting on Death Row was not guilty of the murder of his mother and sisters but that there were other forces at play. Libby hasn’t kept in touch with any of the people connected to the murders during all these years, but to get the money from Lyle, she’s expected to do some routine interviews with her brother and other persons still alive from that period. Once she does, she realizes that her thinking her brother was guilty all these years doesn’t really hold true now, and she begins prowling through the remnants of clues to see if she can piece together what really happened.


    As with other Gillian Flynn novels brought to the screen, writer-director Gilles Paquet-Brenner retains the motif of juxtaposing flashbacks from the past with present day events revealing just enough information in each past scene to spirit Libby’s investigation ahead in the present. The back-and-forth seesaw of past and present day events gets rather tiresome before the movie ends, but to keep the dark solutions to the mysteries hidden until the film’s last quarter hour, the split motif is of necessity necessary. The twists are certainly present, but they aren’t nearly as shocking here as they were in Gone Girl, and the journeyman direction of this film by Gilles Paquet-Brenner can’t hold a candle to the cinematic legerdemain that David Fincher displayed in Gone Girl. The movie is saved, really, by an outstanding group of character actors playing in basically two movies: the 1985 one that includes the gruesome murders and an uneasy examination into small town accusations of molestation, class divides, the hopelessness of poverty, and even glimpses into Satanism, and the present-day one where we’re allowed to see what almost three decades of passing time have done to people with much to hide. Besides the reenactment of the original slaughter, the best directed scene comes late in the movie as Libby, having gotten information that cracks the case, must flee for her life from characters who will do anything to stop her. The scene might have been extended even more frighteningly, but the tension is well sustained for as long as it lasts.


    The casts of both portions of the movie are superlative even if occasionally some characters in the present don’t much resemble their past counterparts. That’s especially true with Tye Sheridan and Corey Stoll who look nothing alike as the teenaged and older Ben, but their performances are both so real and gripping that one doesn’t mind the anomaly. A better match is Chloë Grace Moretz and Andrea Roth as the younger and older versions of Ben’s girl friend Diondra who holds one of the keys to the puzzle. Christina Hendricks is superb as Libby’s mother in the 1985 section, desperate to make ends meet and keep her family together, not helped at all by deadbeat dad Runner Day played with definite malicious intent by Sean Bridgers. Nicholas Hoult is confident and sincere as Lyle Wirth while Drea de Matteo has a brief role in the present day section as the woman who as a girl had accusations against the teenaged Ben. And, of course, Charlize Theron captures all eyes as the edgy, sour Libby Day. Her performance blossoms as the film unfolds as she shakes off the torpor of the past quarter century and begins to take an interest in a story that she has directly affected and which has directly affected her.

    Video Rating: 4/5  3D Rating: NA

    The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. While sharpness is above average, it’s somewhat disappointing with its lack of detail sometimes and with the crushed black levels in lower light sequences. Color has been desaturated throughout, so skin tones are a bit paler than usual. The movie has been divided into 16 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix reflects the low budget quality of the filmmaking with occasional ambient sounds in the fronts and rears but not enough to do a good job establishing the Midwestern setting for the story. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel. The background score by BT and Gregory Tripi gets a decent spread through the fronts and rears.

    Special Features Rating: 2.5/5

    Bringing Dark Places to Light (23:08, HD): sound bites illuminate thoughts about the original book and its transition to film from writer-director Gilles Paquet-Brenner, original author Gillian Flynn, producers Peter Safran, A.J. Dix, Matt Jackson, and Cathy Schulman, and stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, and Chloë Grace Moretz.


    About the Author: Gillian Flynn (9:16, HD): the author proclaims her satisfaction with the adaptation of her book to the screen and her talent is praised by producers Matt Jackson and Cathy Schulman and stars stars Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, and Chloë Grace Moretz.


    Promo Trailers (HD):Room, The Witch, The Vatican Tapes, Ex Machina, A Most Violent Year.


    Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed in the case.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5

    Not as gripping as Gone Girl but containing many of the same elements of mystery and tone, Dark Places would make an interesting rental for those intrigued by the writings of Gillian Flynn. The Blu-ray is above average in sound and picture but can’t compare with transfers of other noteworthy films.

    Reviewed By: Matt Hough

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