Hold the Dark is a new thriller on Netflix. It’s definitely a slow-burner but it also features a lot of blood and violence. It is indeed a very dark tale set in the very cold Alaska!
Even if it sounds like a bit much, it does describe what most good adventures cover. However, I wouldn’t exactly describe the plot of Hold the Dark as an adventure.
Instead, it reminded me a lot more of Wind River during the first hour or so. After that, it takes a turn for something else entirely.
Dark, cold, and cynical
The story of Hold the Dark takes place almost entirely in Alaska. This means we’re somewhere cold and dark. Many Americans may not be able to relate to days that begin late in the morning and end early in the afternoon.
Being from Scandinavia, I could relate quite easily. The days are crazy short during the winter!
As far as the intense cold of Alaska goes, however, I do feel spared. Even during the movie, I felt relief when we suddenly went to Iraq for a short while. Alexander Skargård plays Vernon Slone, who’s a soldier on tour in the very hot desert while his wife waits for him in the all-consuming cold.
The violence in Hold the Dark seems almost omnipresent. Fortunately, it never seems to glorify violence. It’s always shown as a viable means to an end. Even if we [the audience] rarely get to know all the facts.
The Nordic characters
As just mentioned, Alexander Skarsgård (Mute) plays one of the lead roles, while Riley Keough (It Comes at Night) plays his wife. The two are referred to as “the Nordics”. Interestingly, the Nordics seem to get along just fine with the Native Americans in the area.
Somehow, there’s a common understanding of (and cooperation with) nature. Everyone else seems to be seen as regular “Americans” who are not exactly held in high regard.
The actual lead role is played by Jeffrey Wright (Westworld). He’s the one we’re with from the beginning until the end. And yet, he doesn’t seem to know much more about what’s going on than we do. The plot never really gives us all the details.
Watch the Jeremy Saulnier film on Netflix
Hold the Dark was directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who seems to already have found his own clear voice. If you’ve watched his previous movie, Green Room, then you know his style.
Also read: Our review of Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room
He tends to make movies that span over a short period of time, where things go wrong and people have to make difficult choices. Even the ending of Hold the Dark is pretty open so you can draw your own conclusions.
It’s almost like when you read about some awful event and then never get to hear what happened afterward. You’re left in the vacuum of the event and just move on with your life. That’s not something we’re accustomed to in this world with so much focus on closure. Jeremy Saulnier does not offer closure!
If you’re up for a dark and different movie, then make sure you check out this one. Just be ready for a slow pace.
Hold the Dark is out on Netflix worldwide now!
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Julian Black Antelope, Tantoo Cardinal
A gripping psychological thriller unfolds in the treacherous Alaskan wilderness when a retired wolf expert is summoned to investigate a child’s disappearance.