May 2, 2019 A Dark Place (Movie Review)
Directed by Simon Fellows (Blessed 2004, Until Death 2007) and produced by Gareth Ellis-Unwin (Exam 2009, The King’s Speech 2010), Leon Clarance (Sense8 series, Come and Find Me 2016), Tai Duncan (Proud Mary 2018, How It Ends 2018), and Mark Williams (The Accountant 2016, Ozark series), A Dark Place had a limited theatrical release on April 12th through Shout! Studios. Hitting VOD the same day, it is Crime Thriller about a man who will stop at nothing to uncover the truth behind the death of a young boy, but does it hold up against other films in the genre?
Set in the fictional town of Harbaugh, Pennsylvania, Donald Devlin (Andrew Scott: Sherlock series, Spectre 2015) is a garbage truck driver who works with sarcastic, witty, Donna (Bronagh Waugh: The Fall series, A Christmas Star 2017). Donald, father to an 11-year-old girl named Wendy (Christa Beth Campbell: Criminal Minds series, Cecil 2019), is in love with her mother, Linda (Denise Gough: Robin Hood 2010, ’71 2014), a lady who he had a one-night stand with. However, Linda has never loved Donald, and when he tries yet again to tell Linda his feelings, she is quick to put him into place.
A life of disappointments and frustrations, Donald comes to discover a 6-year-old boy named Tyler Ziegler (Nolan Cook: Murder Calls 2018) is missing when he and his daughter Wendy see Tyler’s older brother posted about him on social media. Concerned, Donald says that Tyler always waves to him through the window when he is driving the garbage truck, and soon after Tyler has gone missing, a young girl finds him drowned in the river.
Exhibiting obsessive-like behaviors, when Tyler turns up dead, Donald begins his own investigation. Upon talking to Tyler’s mother, she admits that her son was afraid of everything and would never run off. Based solely on Mrs. Ziegler’s word, he begins questioning people around town, thus Donald’s fixation with the death of Tyler begins to have negative consequences and places him under scrutiny. However, he is unwilling to stop until he uncovers the truth… no matter what the cost.
The opening of A Dark Place goes through images of the old steel town and the river, and at the end of this sequence, you see the boy’s legs and feet floating in the river; which is the spine-tingling foreshadowing of what is to come. Although the death of the young boy is at the heart of the movie, it feels as if it takes a back-burner in many ways. Furthermore, the movie also never really explains why Donald is so determined to investigate the little boy’s death, since he is only going off what Mrs. Ziegler tells him.
Instead, A Dark Place really focused more on Donald’s life and the other characters, so much so, Tyler Ziegler almost seemed to blend in with the background. This in mind, the feel of the whole movie is desperation at its core. Later on, there are talks of abuse and molestation, however, it really seemed like an after-thought. In truth, Donald’s behavior throughout the film is unbelievable at times, since most people would get arrested or have to undergo psychiatric evaluation for some of it.
This all in mind, the acting is quite good and believable through much of A Dark Place. Scott does a brilliant job of portraying the obsessive and troubled Donald very well. In fact, Scott really carried the movie making Donald come to life while Campbell does a good job with Wendy, Waugh plays the wise-cracking Donna well, and Gough offers a solid performance as Linda. Overall, an interesting enough story, A Dark Place did have some good points, but also low points. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 2.5 out of 5 stars.