24th Oct2018

‘Hold the Dark’ Review (Netflix)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, James Badge Dale, Beckam Crawford, Riley Keough, Michael Tayles, Julian Black Antelope, Conor Boru | Written by Macon Blair | Directed by Jeremy Saulnier


In the grim Alaskan winter, a naturalist hunts for wolves blamed for killing a local boy, but he soon finds himself swept into a chilling mystery.

Jeremy Saulnier returns with his fourth feature with the Netflix exclusive Hold the Dark. After a string of critically acclaimed features in the indie market in the likes of Blue Ruin and Green Room. Two incredibly glib, morbid and frightful thrillers that question the limits of individual heroism and morality.

Hold the Dark has been described by director Saulnier as containing his highest body count to date on screen. Fans of nihilistic tendencies rejoice but if that’s the only thing what Hold the Dark offers it’s a fair assessment that Saulnier doesn’t understand or want to evoke his greatest available strengths. Going for the simplest and poorest option at hand and neglecting to tell a thematically intense and suggestable thriller.

Hold the Dark is undoubtedly brash and bleak with the sheer amount of bloodshed on screen. A constant barrage of bloodied bodies engrains and blocks any and all the sentiments Saulnier’s film has to offer. Ultimately an incoherent and abrasive film takes the stage. More so than the intended cold effect of character and plot. A ten-fold effect is caused by a lack of character connectivity and a complete lack of interest and sentiment arises to block any engagement between plot and audience.

The mysticism is distinguished and undoubtedly effective when implemented throughout. In particular the first and second act, however, the film lacks an assertive nature or any prowess. It takes you on the journey it intended but the context in between is non-existent and dour with a glib edge. The strongest element of production is the talent onscreen and sadly the performances are mixed. Stoic is the best word used to describe all on screen, especially that of Skarsgaard and Wright, whom play equals and opposites of an emotional equation. It’s this thematic element that intrigues but the trajectories and arcs don’t want to proceed to explore or even identify such exits, wishfully thinking its audience will do the majority of the work themselves. The roles per-say are all so hollow and pinned up with exaggerated sunken character arcs with so little hope to find, it takes most of the energy to make excuses tp involve oneself in the misery at hand and by that time with bizarre twists and turns the burn is gone.

Hold the Dark is available exclusively on Netflix now.


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