deconstructing trailers: DARK PLACES

“I was 8 the night they were killed. The little orphan girl of the Kansas Prairie Massacre.”

That’s how CHARLIZE THERON’s character introduces herself in the new trailer for DARK PLACES, an adult thriller based on a book by GONE GIRL author Gillian Flynn.

Theron dials down her beauty once again, like her Oscar turn in MONSTER. And Flynn has proven she writes strong, complex, and motivated women. Maybe this film has another chance for a golden statue here.

28 years ago, Theron’s mother (Christina Hendricks; MAD MEN, DRIVE) was murdered. All signs seem to point to her older brother (Tye Sheridan; TREE OF LIFE, MUD) as the killer.

At first, it seems like he’s simply guilty by association – a fan of Heavy Metal and scribbler of Satanic designs. But later, we’ll learn he might have some outside influence.

rising stars… Tye Sheridan & Chloe Grace Moretz

Sheridan is one of the most talented young actors out there. It’s good to see him get another quality drama role before Hollywood scoops him up to play Cyclops in the next X-MEN blockbuster.

Thus far, Sheridan’s demonstrated a quiet and reflective presence on the silver screen. So I’m thinking his role here won’t be exactly cut and dry.

DARK PLACES has a strong concept, much more beyond a who-dunnit. One of the more compelling ideas behind this film is the Kill Club. NICHOLAS HOULT (MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, YOUNG ONES) plays a member of this nefarious sounding group.

Really, these guys are crime-solvers. The Club is made up of former cops and private investigators. Hoult confronts Theron with the idea that her brother has been innocent all these years. This intriguing concept has me hooked. The real murderer is still out there somewhere.

The Black Dahlia (?)

Lizzie Borden (?)

Next, we get an EYES WIDE SHUT-type introduction to this Club. The smoky atmosphere and theatrical costumes make me wonder what’s really going on. This strange macabre setting is filled with infamous characters from crime history.

I noticed the terrible smile of the Black Dahlia and Lizzie Borden with an axe. These are two legendary unsolved cases. So, where’s Jack the Ripper and the Zodiak Killer? Regardless, the sequence has me disturbed and suspicious.

The unsettling Trent Reznor sounding score was great, amplifying and enhancing the eerie effect.

Corey Stoll plays Theron’s brother in the present day. He’s been imprisoned for nearly three decades. Hoult has convinced Theron to re-examine what happened the night of the murder. She wonders if her brother is innocent then why has he never filed an appeal.

I wonder if he’s protecting the real murderer. Especially when he says, “Everyone’s a liar.”  There’s definitely more going on than it seems. More than Stoll hinting that his sister has been lying to herself all of these years.

Stoll adds another stinger by the end of the trailer, calling out to his sister from behind bars, “You’re just as imprisoned as I am.” Looks like the past weighs on both of them.

I’m reminded of one of my favourite films here. Allow me to quote MAGNOLIA, “Like the book says, We may be done with the past, but the past ain’t done with us.”

During a flashback sequence we see Sheridan with CHLOE GRACE MORETZ. It seems like she’s his girlfriend, or at least his object of desire. The way she seductively slithers with a knife we’re meant to think he could be lying for her (in the present day).

Did Moretz manipulate Sheridan to murder? Is she like Melisandre on GAME OF THRONES, controlling Stannis? Did he do it to impress her? Did someone else order Moretz into action? Is this a Mickey & Mallory NATURAL BORN KILLER type situation?

There are so many possible motives. DARK PLACES looks to have a dense mystery worth participating with.

Both storylines are impressively cast. The young talent of the flashbacks are both rising stars.

Hoult has quite a few notable films premiering in 2015. He’s been great in diverse roles like WARM BODIES where he portrayed a mute zombie in love, and blockbusters like MAD MAX and X-MEN (as blue furred Beast).

My favourite Hoult performance thus far was in the sci-fi/western/thriller YOUNG ONES (check out my review). He played a heartless and manipulative villain in that indie hidden gem.

Chloe Grace Moretz burst onto the scene as Hit Girl in KICK-ASS. Since then she’s appeared in several films and has dodged being type-cast.

She recently headlined films like the horror remake CARRIE and the ghostly romance IF I STAY (check out my review).

Moretz has developed quite the range at a young age. DARK PLACES could break her through to the mainstream adult audience.

Depending on how her storyline pans out, she could also gain recognition amongst established critics.

Charlize Theron leads the way, dolled down with short hair and a baseball cap. This character is ripe for exploration and evolution.

She has quite the What If? scenario to contend with.

On top of this, Theron is an active hero pursuing the case to solve her mother’s murder and perhaps prove her brother’s innocence.

These are some seriously heavy stakes.

With a strong concept from a best-selling author and a stellar cast, DARK PLACES is a highly anticipated film by several big demographics.

This is one of those thrillers that could please the audience as much as the critics, much like last year’s GONE GIRL.

It’s also another female led film that would normally go to a male counterpart.

Recent years have proven that women go to the movies just as much as men. (Duh) Hollywood is finally catering to its hungry audience. Let’s hope DARK PLACES is just one film of many in Phase One of non-cliched chick flicks


What do you think?

Leave a comment.

Do super beautiful actresses like Charlize Theron need to doll themselves down to get Award recognition?

Just sayin’… Something’s up right there—

— IE: Like how ROSAMUND PIKE’s amazing performance in Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL was nomination snubbed by Oscars.

TWEET TWEET @slipthroughnerd

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