No film exists entirely independently, untainted by the circumstances surrounding its existence, the contextual content that informs our appreciation of each film as we experience it. It's a shame to those of us who are familiar with Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl movie to see her talents wasted as they are in Dark Places, since we know that those talents actually do exist; those unfamiliar with the former film will wonder what all the fuss was about upon encountering this sleazy, snoozy skeeze-fest. Gone Girl ought to have informed writer/director Gilles Paquet-Brenner how to approach Flynn's writing: Dark Places' plot makes little sense past being dismissed as potboiler mystery, but only in its most basic form. Pry, imply, invent, Gilles! Search for character clues hidden within Flynn's prose, enrich your own with subtle suggestion and blatant accusation! No good mystery, and this is no exaggeration, was ever made great by the whats, the whens, the wheres and the whos. Who cares! It's the whys that matter, as I wonder why I - not a writer, nor a director, nor a film professional of any variety - understand so fundamental a detail as this, and Gilles Paquet-Brenner does not, on his seventh feature as director (there's a little more telling context for you)! Flynn's plot, though simplistically rendered, is engaging at the least, and no matter what contrivances the film must employ to resolve itself, the resolutions are suitably distressing. Charlize Theron is effective in the lead role, though the script's lack of enquiry into any of its characters, including hers, limits her performance as it is presented. Alas, we know Theron is capable of better than this, as good as she may be in Dark Places. We know because we have the contextual content to support that fact. Context is at once Dark Places' saving grace and its downfall.