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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Retro Review: In Dark Places (1997)

In Dark Places
Cast: Joan Severance, Bryan Kestner, John Vargas, Suzanne Turner
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Plot: Chapelle, a sexy and mysterious painter, uses the art of seduction to pit her half brother and his best friend against each other in an act of revenge against her abusive father. Thus, a dangerous love triangle ensues 

'Well- Made Yet Underdeveloped Drama That Delves Into Incestuous Relationships & Its Devastating Repercussions'

A tale of seduction, jealousy, betrayal and love, as far as the title of the film goes, Dark Places is indeed a film that very much goes down the deep end, when it delves into the theme of Incestuous Relationships. Yet the film could have and should have touched upon the characters, as much as it should have done.

When an artist by the name of Chapelle reunites with her half-brother, of whom they had not seen each other, years after their father died, and he had subjected her to abuse, thus driving them apart, Chapelle uses Chazz as she torments him with her love, so she can get hold of their dad's fortune. When Chazz sees Chapelle making love to his friend, one night, a bout of jealousy ensues and he ends up falling for her. Yet this, in turn, leads to ultimate tragedy and gloom. 

The scenes with Joan Severance and Bryan Kestner are very good, such as when
 Chazz confronts Chapelle about her feelings and when they become intimate in the bedroom and make love to each other, though as I was watching Chazz making love to his half -sister, as Incestuous and inappropriate as it was, at the same time, thoughts were running through my mind that it was like any other sexual relationship. That I didn't think much of it. But that is because this is a movie, and not real-life where the feeling is not quite the same, had they been actual siblings. And the love scenes were well acted, well done; there is a degree of emotion between Chazz and Chapelle when they made love. Sadness, as well as desire and for Chazz, happiness when it is short-lived. This is not your typical porno flick, softcore sex movie the likes you see on adult cable channels, where it has plenty of sex scenes and virtually no plot, no story. But a drama that explores sensuality and the subject of incest which is not only rare to see in movies: it is also done with tenderness, hinged with some tragedy too. 

I'd have liked to have seen Severance and Kestner as a coupling or potential coupling in a different movie, perhaps a different type of movie, like a romantic drama; they are a good fit for one another and ooze sexual passion.  

However, with regards to the characterisations, I felt the director and writer didn't explore and explain why Chazz feels the way he does towards Chapelle, and why Chapelle was most of the time not nice towards him. The day after they ended up in bed together, she goes back to her other boyfriend and plots to screw Chazz over. The remaining characters, however, were awful, poorly written, with no sense of me wanting to care for them, one bit.

The storyline though was complex and very absorbing. Severance and Kestner played their parts well, although, with Kestner, his character can be a bit too needy when he comes onto Severance's Chapelle. Although he is emotionally messed up, as well as frustrated to see that the woman he loves, is his half-sister.

The film itself isn't one of the best, ever and the last third when the film takes a (un)expected & nutty turn, was a bit of a letdown, but the events that unravel within the story kept the film flowing. 

Final Verdict: 

In Dark Places won't be to everyone's tastes, but it does some things well. Under a bigger production company, say Universal or Columbia pictures, I think this would have attracted more viewers. 

Had the supporting characters been as good and remotely interesting as the two main ones, as well as the film had a better climax towards the end, I would have enjoyed it more. 

If you like your thrillers with an odd twist or movies like Lolita then this might be for you. 


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