This movie is based on a book written by Gillian Flynn, who wrote Gone Girl. Similar to the movie, Gone Girl, not everything is what it seems in Dark Places. The movie starts 25 years earlier when the movie’s heroine, Libby Day, is seven years old and runs out of her house late at night to escape the slaughter of her mother and two older sisters. Cut to present when she is older and still traumatized, the now older heroine, played by Charlize Theron, is broke and looking for cash. Since the murders, she had been living off the sympathy cash she’s been receiving from the general public and the now dwindling royalties from the book about her experience. Over the years, the public’s memory and interest fade since there are always new murders of children that catch the public’s attention.
As Libby goes through her now paltry “fan mail,” she sees a letter that catches her attention. That’s because the writer, played by Nicholas Hoult, is offering cash for her to present her story to his club that specializes in solving unsolved crimes committed years ago, or new ones that even the professionals can’t figure. Hoult’s character is especially intrigued by her grisly story because Libby’s brother, played by Tye Sheridan, was charged and convicted of the murders, and Hoult doesn’t believe he could have done it based on what he’s found from his club research. The movie weaves in and out of the past and present as the viewer goes along for the ride with the crime solvers, trying to piece together who actually killed Libby’s mother and sisters.
According to Gillian Flynn, the beginning of the movie is inspired by her being influenced by Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood setting, where the murders take place in the middle of a depressed farmland. However, that’s the extent of the Capote story’s influence regarding the storyline; the rest is Gillian Flynn’s ongoing interest in dark places.