Fantasia Fest 2015: Dark Places (2015)

That was a fun ride, wasn’t it? Fantasia Festival this year had some great movies.  And I think I made some fantastic choices covering a range of horror with different pacing and styles.  There was thrillers and even one foreign film (which there was more though).  But, we are at the end and with a rather late showing of Dark Places (which was even later because the entrance was delayed).  I’m a huge fan of Gillian Flynn and Dark Places was written before Gone Girl.  Check out my book review here. I had mixed feelings about how Dark Places would turn out but there is no doubt that it has a pretty awesome looking cast.  Plus, hey, Nicholas Hoult non-zombie version. I’m down for that 😉 Plus, its an advanced screening, even if I only got the review up today, after its been released in theatres.

Let’s check this out! 🙂

Dark Places (2015)

dark places

Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner

Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Sterling Jerins, Christina Hendricks, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sean Bridgers

Libby Day was only seven years old when her family was brutally murdered in their rural Kansas farmhouse. Twenty-five years later, she agrees to revisit the crime and uncovers the wrenching truths that led up to that tragic night.-IMDB

I’m a huge fan of Gillian Flynn (like I said before). HUGE! I love all of her three books.  Even though, Gone Girl is by far the best one and the movie adaptation is just pure awesome and I’m not as big of a fan of Dark Places (its the last favorite of the three), the cast of Dark Places was one that made me at least know the performances would stand out. I’m going to tell you right away that Dark Places is an okay adaptation of the book, bordering okay.  One, its a bit long and dragging out in a lot of parts and two, it feels a little disjointed because of the interpretation of how the book was set up and how they did it. The one thing I worried about for this novel being not a good match for the big screen was that in the novel, we learn about Libby Day through what is going on in her mind, and she is one ugly inner beauty sort of person.  She’s really not all that likable because that helps her character build as the story goes along.  In the movie, even with a fantastic actress like Charlize Theron, its hard to show what is going on someone’s mind as they observe the situation and react silently and in their own way.  Its easy to lose or just never build the connection with the main character.

dark places

Dark Places does use the set up of the book by jumping from present day Libby linking back to her investigation and revisiting her past to flashbacks of the day before all the murders while also using her mom, Patty and her brother, Ben’s day to piece together the events.  I like that they effectively did that.  That way to tell a story is very Gillian Flynn if you think about it.  Its the art of creating one timeline with multiple points of reference for various characters to reach for the audience to piece it all together.  It makes it engaging to watch.

dark places

Except, something also makes it hard to watch.  I’d like to say its the set up of the storyboard adapted from the book.  Maybe its the slow start to introduce us to who Libby is now, 25 years later.  Maybe its to bring us to learn more about her and the situation she is going into but something didn’t wrong so well.  I think its the details or just picking the right pieces from the book to put together that will create the right amount of suspense.  It seemed to just keep revealing certain parts as a way to roughly enter a new character or a “shocking” new situation.  I don’t know, it just didn’t work so well for me.

dark places

However, just as I expected though, the strengths of Dark Places lie in their cast.  If anyone less talented than Charlize Theron was doing present day Libby Day, it might be even less expressive of the emotions we’d like to see.  In general, the character of Libby Day was portrayed well enough for us to see that she isn’t so appealing, not quite as hated as in the novel perhaps but we can see that she basks in the world of pity and manipulation and just pure laziness to avoid being caught in work.  Her world is contingent on money and compensation while she chooses to be ignorant of her brother.  I was a little disappointed with not having the investigation group so much but at least Nicholas Hoult still got a few moments to pop up.  The character I bought the most out of was Chloe Grace Moretz.  This is a dark novel and she is an actress that can pull off these dark roles really well.  Although I felt the setup and build for her character, Diondra was great but it was effective her (at least more if you haven’t read the book).  The rest of the cast from the younger boys to everyone else was a good mesh.

 Overall, Dark Places is okay.  The premise is solid because the original was a good piece with a strong story.  However, the adaptation did  not work quite as well.  The story did get lost in itself a little and felt like it didn’t flow so well.  Plus, while the runtime might not be the big issue, it runs a little too slow and doesn’t have the right pieces to make us thrilled with the story.  However, the cast is very well chosen and they do well with they have to work with, making it more enjoyable and mildly compelling. The choice to follow the layout of the novel was a good one and the atmosphere was set pretty well.  What is sad is that Dark Places has quite a bit of potential to be a great movie thriller, however a main character which bases a lot on her inner thoughts to move a story doesn’t work so well on the big screen, especially with a somewhat flawed adapted screenplay.

Have you seen Dark Places? Have you read the book? What are your thoughts?

Fantasia Film Festival Line-up! :)

It’s the time of year again! Fantasia Film Festival hits Montreal starting the coming Tuesday (July 14th)!

After waiting for the site to get updated and the schedule to go up on Tuesday, I sat down for 2 hours looking at trailers, reading descriptions, seeing what fit in my schedule.  It sure took longer than I expected.  But then, last year probably took the same amount of time.  With work rush in the way, I have to make some choices that I didn’t really want to.  Some movies I wanted to see only  had time slots where I couldn’t go or it clashed with something I wanted to see more.

One movie, I did end up not choosing (because the chances of me getting tickets were also slim) was advanced screening of Ant-Man.  I’ll still go check it out in theatres if its still around after the festival but its okay.  There are a lot of great choices and some amazing hosts for certain movies.  With that said, I was a little nervous that I couldn’t get tickets for some of the movies.  Here is what the final line-up is!

Just a note: I don’t have particular preferences but I do usually go for less dramas and romance and more horror and thrillers.  I always choose one Hong Kong (China) production and try to dive into Canadian movies also.  Other ones, I try to keep an eye out for is Quebec production and animations that peak my interest but not necessarily included.

July 15

Kung Fu Killer (Quebec Premiere)

The Hallow (Canadian Premiere)

July 17

Cooties (Canadian Premiere)

July 19

We Are Still Here (Canadian Premiere)

Observance (World Premiere)

July 21

Anguish (World Premiere)

July 24

Tales of Halloween (World Premiere)

July 28

Cop Car (Canadian Premiere)

July 29

Bite (World Premiere)

July 30

Antisocial 2 (World Premiere)

Dark Places

That’s the line-up for now! 🙂 11 movies! That’s the same as last year.  I’m pretty happy that I managed to get all of what I wanted even though I hesitated a little during ticket checkout for Tales of Halloween and Antisocial 2. Those are kind of my wild card right there but after looking at the San Diego Comic Con trailer for Tales of Halloween.  It does make me a good bit more optimistic.  I haven’t ever dived into the world of horror anthology movies so this will be a fresh experience.  As for Antisocial 2, my review for Antisocial will go up some time next week, tell me that it doesn’t give you a creeping feeling of Resident Evil BUT I’m a huge fan of Resident Evil, seeing as its my guilty pleasure and all, that I’m willing to give this one a chance.

This year, the fiance is coming with me to see the Sunday two movies back to back night with We Are Still Here and Observance. And one of my good friends are going with me to see Cop Car.  I always love company in these things since everyone else seems to have company.  Not that I mind too much since I’m usually pretty hyped up about these events.

 

Moving along, there were a few movies I couldn’t see because of time constraints but these two were the ones that I felt like I will miss out the most:

Cruel

Cub

While there are movies that I considered and the trailers were rather intriguing but upon a second look at the trailers and discussing with my fiance for weekend showings, we decided to not choose those.  Whatever the reason, I do only have a certain budget so sadly, among a pool of potentially good movies, I had to make choices and hope that it would work out for the better. However, please take a look.  Maybe you can shed some light on some of these that I wasn’t aware of and I’ll add it to my viewing list.

Ludo (India)

Synchronicity (USA)

Momentum (South Africa)

Cherry Tree (Ireland)

Synopsis- via Fantasia Festival

Traders (Ireland) 

Synopsis – via Fantasia Festival

And there you go! My final line-up, potential candidates that didn’t make it (but your opinion and suggestions may change that) and movies that had scheduling conflicts.  As for one of the movies, I actually chose because I wanted to see it and then work my schedule around it.  But then, I really hope I’m sacrificing for the right movie… Either way, I need to be confident in what I’ve chosen. I really do like the looks of it all.  I think I’ll need to round up a ton of comedies to ease the amount of horrors sitting in this list.  If you had to choose one horror to get creeped out of, Anguish gave me chills and the first time, I didn’t even finish the trailer on my own.  My fiance claims I’ll stay up all night.  Lets hope that won’t happen. As for hosts, Tales of Halloween will have a ton including Neil Marshall.  I’d lie if I didn’t choose to see that movie because I wanted to see what he had to say about it. Then there’s Cop Car where Kevin Bacon will host along with the director.  Just a little highlight from what I can remember.

Yay! Festival season! 🙂 Its a huge reason why I feel so lucky to be living in Montreal!

Anyone going to be here for the Fantasia Festival? What are you seeing? Anything catch your eye out of this selection? What peaks your interest from this list?

January 2014 Reading Recap!

The first monthly update on my reading challenge! Its a switch up from my full-on reviews.

January was a good month, I’d say.  I’m right on track with my reading 🙂

1) The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies #3) by Pittacus Lore

Rise of Nine Pittacus Lore

(COMPLETED JAN.8)

If you haven’t happened to read this series and you like thrilling sci-fi books, well, let me ask you, “What are you waiting for? Go and get it!” I devoured this book (and the past two) within probably two-three days max.  These books are amazing.  I really wish that they could be made into decent sci-fi thrillers, at least a second attempt or something.  Its really a joy ride.  Its rare to have a third book in a series going so strong and still have me hooked.  There’s always some new discovery and because of the alien factor, there’s so much that the readers discover along with the characters as the plot develops, thickens and intensifies.  If you like young adult, sci-fi thrillers packed with lots of action, this is a series you shouldn’t miss and this is a worthy sequel.  I can’t wait to read the next book, The Fall of Five. 🙂

If you’d like to read my review of the previous few book, you can find it HERE.  I read the first book of the series before I started reviewing so I don’t have one written but they are all awesome! 🙂

2) The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

the abc murders

(COMPLETED JAN. 16)

Its been a while that I’ve dived into the world of Agatha Christie.  I’ve been impressed by her mysteries.  The ABC Murders starts off quite slow but finally picks up the pace and the mystery gets increasingly engaging after about halfway.  The story itself is quite original and as always, there is an unexpected twist at the end.  Its something of a signature in her books.  The concept of playing with the alphabets and the aging Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings was actually fun to read.  However, I can’t help but think that the book could have flowed a bit better.  It was a good read but just takes time to get into.

3) Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark places

(COMPLETED JAN. 31)

There is no doubt in my mind that Gillian Flynn is an amazing thriller author. So far she’s 2 for 2.  Her latest novel Gone Girl was a slow-burning and batshit crazy investigation.  Its also THE MOST anticipated movie in 2014 for me.  Because of that book, I went back and bought her first two books also. Sharp Objects was a pretty crazy intense one. I welcome you to check out my reviews HERE and HERE for Gone Girl and Sharp Objects respectively.

Dark Places is her second novel. The beginning brings us into a girl now in her 30s, Libby Day, who is the survivor of her family, her mother and 2 sisters, that were murdered by her brother who is now in jail.  The story starts off pretty slow and Libby is one of those girls that I wouldn’t associate with because they dug their own hole and choose to live on and manipulate other people’s pity and sympathy and she’s pretty negative.  But, I get it, right? If I lost my family at such a young age, I’d have issues too, right? As the characters developed more with viewing each side of the story and jumping from past to present, the situation intensifies, we get to see what is happening from the viewponits of Ben Day (Libby’s brother and the suspected killer of his family) and Patty Day (Libby’s mother) on the day of the murder and then we alternate to the present with Libby Day and her investigation.  You know, I’m a sucker for character development and I think that I felt like I could see Libby change as the mystery deepens.  The only main issue I had was that I felt like it dragged the beginning too much but after reading the final third, I realized it was necessary because of the details. Its a good thriller.  My least favorite out of Gillian Flynn’s novels but the ending really is quite awesome.

Have you read these ones? What did you think of them?

What books did you read in January? Anything you’d recommend?