Donald Devlin (Andrew Scott) is a sanitation worker in a small Pennsylvania town. Donnie lives with his ailing mother, but has an 11-year-old daughter Wendy (Christa Beth Campbell), whom he visits weekly at her mother Linda’s (Denise Gough) home. Donnie and Linda never really had a relationship, but he is on the spectrum, and as a result, can be a bit naive and socially awkward, believing that there is still a chance that he and Linda will eventually get married. Donnie loves his daughter, and would do anythign to protect her.
One day, a 6-year-old boy’s body is found washed ashore, and while the police do an investigation, the case is closed quite quickly, deeming the death an accident. Donnie recognizes the boy as someone on his route, who would always wave to him from an upstairs window as he collected the family’s trash. As his garbage truck passes by the family’s home, Donnie sees the grieving mother crying on her front step. He goes to offer his condolences, and the boy’s mother tells him that her boy’s death couldn’t have been an accident—that her child would never have run off into the woods on his own. So Donnie decides to investigate the case himself. He quickly becomes consumed by the investigation, and takes it upon himself to go undercover and question suspects. However, he soon receives push back from the local authorities. They seem to be hiding something, and are content to have the case closed. As Donnie continues his investigation, the situation becomes increasingly dangerous—someone wants to stop Donnie from discovering the truth about what happened to the boy, and is willing to use any means necessary to do so.
A Dark Place is an engrossing thriller, due in large part to a stellar performance by Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Fleabag). While it’s never specifically stated, he’s definitely on the spectrum (this is confirmed in the bonus featurette). There’s definitely something off with Donnie—he is a bit simple minded and naive, seeing everything in black and white. He sees that no one is fighting to learn the truth about what happened to this boy, and decides to step in to solve case himself, and make sure the boy gets justice. Over the course of the film, Donnie keeps going to a darker and darker place as his investigation progresses. The film gets pretty heavy at times, but to help lighten things up, there is this fun relationship between Donnie and his garbage truck partner Donna (Bronagh Waugh). You can tell she is used to Donnie’s eccentricities, and comments that might come off as blunt and harsh just roll right off her, as she knows that Donnie is not a hateful or spiteful person. Overall, the film is a solid drama, with an exciting mystery at its core. It should definitely appeal to fans of small town crime dramas.
Shout Factory’s Blu-ray release features a solid presentation. The picture looks clean, clear and detailed throughout, even in the darker nighttime scenes. The audio track provides clear dialogue, and makes nice use of the surround channel to add a more-immersive ambiance to the film, such as the sounds of birds chirping from every direction in the woods. The Blu-ray release is a bit bare-bones, but still includes one interesting 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette with the cast and filmmakers.
- 1080p / Widescreen 2.39:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
- Subtitles: English SDH
- A Dark Place — Behind the Scenes (10:19)
The cast and crew talk about the story, characters, and the look of the film. They also discuss filming in Georgia, doubling as Pittsburgh, and the challenges of learning a Pennsylvanian accent. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with director Simon Fellows, producer Gareth Ellis-Unwin, production designer Erik Rehl, writer Brendan Higgins, director of photography Marcel Zyskind, and stars Andrew Scott (“Donald”) & Bronagh Waugh (“Donna”).
- Theatrical Trailer (2:03)
A Dark Place is an engrossing small-town murder-mystery thriller featuring a stellar performance by Andrew Scott. The film does an excellent job of slowly building things up as this man as he falls deeper and deeper into a dark place as he becomes more and more obsessed with solving the murder of a young boy. Shout Factory’s release provides solid picture and sound, but is a little light on bonus material. That said, this release comes recommended for fans of small town crime dramas, or just of Andrew Scott’s work in general.