Travis is one seriously scary dude. You have to love it when you find an actor like Christopher Brown that can pull off a role like this - and be that diamond in the rough that can successfully navigate the space between walking that ultra-fine line of trying to hang onto the only reality he knows - or snapping straight into some kind of verifiable madman right in front of our eyes. Take the dinner scene in this film, for example, where he's explaining what the house has been like to live in and tells his version of a joke, which goes on to terrify the living daylights out of everyone sitting at the table - and also delivers one of the film's most potent jump-scares. He's highly effective in every scene, and he carries a ton of weight when it comes to what makes us want to keep watching "Darkest Of Lies," if only so we can figure out what the heck is really going on with Travis and where his character finally ends up. He's got that perfect mix of danger, menace, intelligence, and intensity; you can see it in his eyes. Travis brings legitimate war-baggage with him, and while I felt like we all sympathize with that aspect of his character, it still feels like he could go the wrong direction at any given time and go from what's essentially a good guy - to head out on some super murderous rampage. Consider yourselves warned.
As for his wife Michelle, played by Hailee Lipscomb, she seemed to be very stressful y'all. Don't get me wrong, I think all relationships naturally have their ups and downs, but she was capable of really inducing any anxieties Travis has - and in us as well as we watch. While that can often be a bit grating to the senses, you have to appreciate that it's effective as well, as in, we might not all end up liking Michelle or wanting someone like her in our own lives, but she plays her part well. It's also fair to say that living with Travis ain't exactly easy either – his mood swings would be tough on even the most even-keeled personality, and that is definitely not how I'd ever describe Michelle's character.
"Darkest Of Lies" is well done – I have no "real" complaints about anything I experienced watching this movie. I felt like writer/director Kelly Schwarze did a solid job of establishing the tension and never let it drop, everything we see is crystal clear and shot well, and the mystery of what we're watching is well hidden. We can feel that "Darkest Of Lies" isn't going to end up being the happiest movie any of us are gonna see this year, but we don't really know how bad things might end up when all is said and done. Maybe the house where Travis and Michelle live is the problem – or perhaps they are the problem; we don't know, and the mix of curiosity and mystery keeps our eyes peeled watching. As for the domestic disputes we encounter, they're designed to keep us on edge and anything but comfortable…and while they're incredibly effective too, I suppose it becomes more of a matter of whether or not everyone taking this film in is going to want to continually experience such explosions of rage - in the relationship we see between its two main characters. Not everyone out there wants to feel like they've become that third wheel at the dinner table witnessing the collapse of their friend's relationship, and "Darkest Of Lies" tends to be quite explosive in that regard when it comes to the strength of its overtly expressive and emotional scenes. The sadness to be found is always palpable, but the rage is outright ferocious. We all like what we like and love what we love in the kind of films we choose to watch, and if you did sign up for a Thriller/Mystery, "Darkest Of Lies" will indeed deliver that for you.
The most room it has to grow is in how it is shot. While Schwarze nails what we see in clarity, there is plenty of space for innovation. Each scene is fairly standard in the way it's displayed to us. Still, you have to appreciate how clearly the story comes across as it unfolds, and it's fair to say that it's also because Schwarze chose such a clean-cut style of shooting that we can make perfect sense of each twist and turn in "Darkest Of Lies" as it comes at us. It's a bit of a double-edged sword in that regard, and the jumping around in the timeline gives this film a little extra uniqueness in terms of how the story plays out, but sure, looks-wise, we could have probably used a bit more variation, I suppose.
Nevertheless, Schwarze does a lot to prove that you don't need a ton of razzle dazzle when you tell a story the right way, and I'd probably argue that Kelly has told "Darkest Of Lies" from a really strong angle. The supporting cast is brilliant, too, with notable performances from both Sabrina Cofield and Michael Forsch playing pivotal roles that are key to the finale of this film. You'll probably never look at a charcuterie board in the same way ever again, and you'll quite likely be seriously shocked at how "Darkest Of Lies" engineers the ending to make sense and bring a horrifying conclusion to this story.
I'm going with a well-earned four out of five stars, largely based on Christopher Brown's strengths as Travis and the slow-burning level of insanity he brings to his role. The cleverness of the script that Schwarze has put together, also for me, played a huge factor in determining my rating. Things here may not be one hundred percent perfect - but in terms of the storytelling and the acting, "Darkest Of Lies" is undoubtedly satisfying, compelling, authentic, and complete.