Libby Day was only seven years old when she survived a massacre in her farmhouse in Kansas. Her mom and two older sisters were not as fortunate. Based on Libby's shaky testimony, her older brother Ben was convicted of this most heinous crime and has been serving prison for 25 years.
Forced by dire financial need, Libby grudgingly accepted an invitation to appear before the Kill Club, a group of detective-wannabes who looked into controversial murder cases. Doubting that Ben did the crimes, they wanted Libby to look into the the circumstances of these ghastly murders again so that true justice can be served.
Charlize Theron can do whatever she wants with her look but she will remain still elegant. In this film, she was a miserable woman with loose dirty t-shirt, with her short-cropped hair hidden under an ugly baseball cap. She looked stunning nevertheless. She was very effective as the troubled Libby who was trapped in her own little prison since the crimes that decimated her family. We completely latch on and sympathize with her character despite her obnoxious attitudes.
Tye Sheridan was impressive as young Ben Day. The role was written to be a stereotype of a bad teenager who was known to dabble in drugs, fornication and satanism. Sheridan rises above the cheesy material to come up with a stirring performance of the disturbed teenager.
Corey Stoll is really good as the incarcerated adult Ben Day. He can certainly send chills down your spine despite his kindly demeanor. The way he was portrayed, you never know what this man is really feeling or thinking, perfect for a mystery like this. This is already the third time I have seen Stoll in a film this year after "Ant-Man" and "The Good Lie", and I believe we will be seeing more of this charming character actor.
Chloe Grace Moretz, wow, what can this talented young actress not do! Her performance as young Diondra, the hysterical girlfriend of young Ben, was crazy and disturbing. I completely did not recognize Moretz as she transformed herself into this trashy selfish girl, successfully making a relatively small but pivotal role stand out.
Christina Hendricks paints the perfect portrait of a desperate woman pushed to the brink as Libby's mother Patty. You could really feel her pain and depression as she dealt with bringing up four kids, while an ex-husband who still mulcted money from her even as her farm was going bankrupt.
The source material of this film is a 2009 novel by author Gillian Flynn, written before her more famous novel Gone Girl. Written and directed by Frenchman Gilles Paquet-Brenner, I thought the film had effective pacing, even as the story shifted from the present to the past and then back. Despite having a multitude of different actors portraying the same unlikable characters twenty five years apart, the storytelling was clear and engaging.
This film was interesting, like a book you cannot put down. It was as much about the squalid poverty in America's heartland, as it was a suspenseful murder mystery. This, for me, made for a compelling movie to watch. 8/10.