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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Amid all the dark stuff are a few complex, subtle messages about forgiveness and learning not to judge others too harshly.
Positive Role Models
The movie is filled with damaged souls and secret-keepers; no one is worth emulating.
Violence & Scariness
Shooting, strangling. References to a teen molesting young girls. Teens killing cows, with blood spatters. Brief flashbacks to a murder scene. Character knocked unconscious. A struggle and a chase. References to suicides that look like accidents. Images of a violent video game.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teen girl kisses a teen boy and pulls off his clothes. Sex is implied. Reference to oral sex. Images of a strip club (no nudity shown). Teen pregnancy.
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Several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," "c--t," "hell," and "whore."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some teen drinking/pot smoking. The main character smokes cigarettes and drinks. Minor adult characters smoke and drink/get drunk. References to a drug dealer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dark Places -- a thriller based on a novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn -- will no doubt be unfavorably compared to the previous film adaptation of Flynn's work. But it's still worth seeing if you can handle the story's multiple murders, references to child molestation, animal killings, blood spatters, fighting, chasing, etc. Language includes several uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more; teens have sex (no graphic nudity), a scene takes place in a strip club, and there are other sexual references. Teens are also seen smoking pot and drinking, and adults smoke cigarettes, drink, and get drunk. One character is said to be a drug dealer. Despite all of this heavy material, the movie never feels too intense, and older, thoughtful teens should be fine. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Based on Gillian Flynn's novel, this thriller will no doubt pale in comparison to Gone Girl, but it has its own merits, namely a psychologically rich, complex storyline and fine performances. DARK PLACES' biggest asset is Theron; hiding under a baseball cap and an ill-fitting coat, her Libby is angrily guarded and in need of help. She finds humanity within her painful shell. And Theron inspires a fine cast of supporters -- ranging from Hoult and Chloe Grace Moretz to Sheridan -- do to equally fine work.
Writer/director Gilles Paquet-Brenner adapts Flynn's novel in a way that seems dense and layered but remarkably clear and exciting. While the ending does rely on some rather gratuitous suspense, the solution to the puzzle isn't quite as routine as you might expect, and the story's conclusion allows for complex emotions rather than a simple, happy wrap-up. It probably won't beat the book, but as a movie, it works.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.