Dark Crimes from Lionsgate Films hits Blu-ray and Digital HD July 31st. It is the first English language offering from Greek director Alexandros Avranas. I’d been meaning to watch his earlier film Miss Violence, which won the Silver Lion for Best Director at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, but I haven’t had a chance. Apparently, it was hailed as “unrelentingly dark” by some at the festival. That sounds right up my cinematic alley. Dark Crimes seems to be following in the same footsteps, not only with the name of the film having “dark” in it but the tagline is: IT TAKES A DARK MIND TO SOLVE A TWISTED CRIME.
Jim Carrey stars as Tadek, a police inspector trying to juggle caring for his elderly mother and immersing himself in work after failing to solve a major case. Carrey is much more subdued in this role than previous ones, so if you’re expecting zany energy, you won’t find it here. His performance is more in line with The Bad Batch, except here he speaks with a Polish accent.
I think Carrey does a great job of showing subtlety, as well as something brewing beneath the surface. He depicts a man under pressure from both his family and his work. Plus we see him with a tortured mind from an unsolved case very convincingly. The plot itself moves rather slowly, unnecessarily so at times, but I find Carrey’s performance continuously interesting, simmering in the background waiting to jump on the next clue.
Also starring in Dark Crimes is Marton Csokas, whom I mostly know as the “vaguely European guy” in other films. He plays Kozlov, a writer whose book seems oddly similar to an unsolved crime that has taken place. Does the author know more than he is letting on? Will Inspector Tadek get to the bottom of the case before his career and family crumble to pieces? You’ll just have to watch to find out for sure.
The film itself has been a bit polarizing. IMDB lists it as a 5.2/10 and Metacritic gives a score of 24/100. On Letterboxd, only two of my friends have seen it, one giving it a 5 and the other a 1 (out of 5). I didn’t find Dark Crimes to be much of an extreme in either case and rate it solidly down the middle. Fans of this kind of film will like the atmosphere and shot composition but may have issues with the pedestrian script and dialogue. I would not consider it at the top of its genre, but still a good modern entry.
As you can see from the screenshots, the color palate is incredibly drab and cold. It looks the part of a dark, overcast, gloomy atmospheric psychological horror. I can’t say that the atmosphere itself was scary, however. I think the film was shot well and offered appropriate visuals according to the story they were trying to tell. The plot was probably the weakest part of the film for me overall. I wished there was more going on. Anyone hoping to find a new David Fincher or Denis Villeneuve will be sorely disappointed.
I think most of your enjoyment of the film depends on two things:
- Are you going to be expecting Jim Carrey to bust out in a wacky rubber face routine and talk out his ass every time he is on screen? Or can you accept him as a serious actor, as a broken and somber figure battling his past?
- Do you enjoy a slow-paced film that allows you to sit with the characters and ponder?
If you are okay with those things, then you might enjoy Dark Crimes. I think it’s a hard film to love, but viewers who like things on the psychologically darker side of a film can find plenty to enjoy in the performance and cinematography.
The Making of Dark Crimes (19 minutes)
Dark Crimes Final Thoughts:
Fans of crime fiction or stories based on true events might find Dark Crimes interesting. Jim Carrey dives into his subdued performance and the technical aspects of the film are well done. Unfortunately, it’s marred by a slow plot and bland dialogue and a bit too uneven to suggest a blind buy. I think if you are really interested in this filmmaker or this genre it is certainly worth a rental.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.