Written & Directed by Nicholas Reiner
For the sake of their young son Dylan, Jaime and Christian have committed to giving their tumultuous marriage one last try. While Chris gave up on his dream of making it as a rock god, he found himself unable to give up the trappings of the lifestyle. His hard partying antics, fueled by whiskey binges and hard drugs have left his relationship with wife and child in tatters. However it looks like Chris has turned things around. He has a new job as a stock broker, he's managed to beat his addictions and as he and Jaime attend marriage counseling, she determines that it's okay for her and Dylan to move back home. Of course things are never as...HEY WHY THE FUCK DID THAT CLOWN JUST POP IN OUT OF NOWHERE?
All Dark Places desperately wants to be a dark and dramatic thriller but instead comes up far short, veering too close to camp territory to be taken seriously. Joshua Burrow does his damnedest to channel Jack Torrance with his portrayal of a recovering addict, but a script that has him doing bumps of coke in the basement the second night his wife moves back home does him no favors. The presence of the invisible clown (Liam Seide), meant to give voice to the turmoil roiling in Christian and his son's head, up the unintentional comedy scale considerably. To his credit Seide gives it an honest go, but the gibberish and nonsensical sounds he makes fail to budge the creep meter at all. Clowns can be terrifying but lest we forget they can also be very, very funny.
It's not a total loss as the film has one inspired bit of insanity in the form of the hippy marriage counselor Dr. Spago (Tim Douglas). The good doctor delivers two gems: first he advises the couple, one of which is a recovering drug addict remember, to drop acid together as away to open up to one another about their problems. This leads to a bizarre, Kafkaesque sequence where the troubled couple take a psychedelic journey with each other and the clown (who tags along for the ride). The second comes when Christian asks how a guy with three failed marriages qualifies in giving marriage advice. Douglas' responds by saying he has still has relations “SEXUAL relations” (his emphasis) with each of them in an earnest, no bullshit tone. It's high comedy.
Unfortunately it's not enough to elevate All Dark Places. Marred by ham fisted performances and subplots that do little aside from padding the runtime (the ex-bandmate turned stockbroker is running a Ponzi scheme for what reason?) it's a tough slog to get through. The Shining influence leaves its thumb prints all over the film but the stakes seem so small and the principles only capable of community theater levels of acting, that drags the whole thing down. Burrow is the guiltiest party here. As the film progresses and his mental well being deteriorates, he makes a habit of falling into a slack jawed blank expression which rather than look dangerous, just makes him seem like a guy in need of a cup of coffee.
The allure of a homicidal clown may be meant to draw the horror crowd in but don't be fooled. This is family drama, which is fine when executed well. That's not the case with All Dark Places.