The title alone should be enough caution, but I'm going to warn you anyway: do not go into Dark Places expecting a sunny and life-affirming film. The Charlize Theron thriller, out August 7, is gritty, nasty, and, well, dark. Theron plays Libby Day, a woman who has all but receded from life since her older brother went to prison for violently murdering the rest of her family. X-Men franchise star Nicholas Hoult plays Lyle Wirth, a member of a morbid, crime-obsessed "Kill Club," who contacts Libby about a money-making opportunity. They think that her brother is innocent, and they'll pay her to unlock doors and re-open personal wounds to help them prove it. Like I said, it's creepy — but is it real? Is Dark Places based on a true story?
Fortunately for humanity, no. Dark Places is not based, at least closely, on any true events. But if its brand of snarling social commentary and horrifically cold characters seem familiar, that's because some of the same ruled movie theaters last summer in Gone Girl. Dark Places is adapted from a novel by Gillian Flynn, the same wonderfully twisted mind that conceived the book the David Fincher movie was based on. Dark Places is Flynn's second novel — Gone Girl was actually published three years later, though the adaptation made it to screens much more quickly. If you haven't read Gone Girl yet, what are you waiting for? It's only a watershed moment in crime fiction and the reinvention of the femme fatale.
Libby Day is not another Amazing Amy, though, although she's a fascinating character in her own right. Flynn writes women who are free from the strictures of having to be "likable." They're complex protagonists, unreliable narrators, and deep wells of guarded emotions and unsettling plans. Charlize Theron wasn't always attached to bring Libby Day to life, however. The Huffington Post spoke with Flynn back in 2012, when Amy Adams was attached to star (an intriguing casting idea — it would have been fun to see someone who usually plays the nice girl access that coldness). At the time, Flynn praised her book's adapter, director and screenwriter Gilles Paquet-Brenner.
"I sold it to him and his production company because he was so passionate about it and I just knew he would take good care of it," she told the site. "He has been very involved and has shown it to me in different stages and has gotten my feedback — and he is very, very faithful to the book. And I don’t know how he was able to condense that book into a screenplay, but he did it."
So it seems that all the twists and turns of Dark Places will stay intact in the movie. But what about "the meanness inside" Libby Day? In this interview with JoBlo, Gillian Flynn praises Theron for her lack of concern for being "the usual heroine" and instead "embracing Libby in every angle that she is." Watch the clip for more from these two women, including a Funny Or Die pitch based on an early, peppy version of Libby.
Thought that bloody Gone Girl scene was surprising? Just imagine a Gillian Flynn movie that's upbeat. Crazy, right?
Images: A24; Giphy