By Dave B.
In Hold the Dark (Netflix) writer and wolf expert, Russell Core (Jeffery Wright) is called up to hunt and kill a wolf that has taken a child from a small town in northern Alaska. What follows is an occasionally bewildering and often violent journey through rural Alaska as Wright (and viewers) attempt to comprehend what the hell is happening.
To be honest, for much of Hold the Dark, I was extremely confused about any of the characters’ motivation for anything that they were doing. However, with about 10 or 15 minutes left in the two-hour long film, everything just clicked in my head (as intended by the writer and director, I assume) and I looked back on the movie with an entirely different (and more positive) perspective. In the interim, between the start of the movie and my sudden epiphany, the movie was fascinating despite my abject confusion.
The stark, primal beauty of the Alaskan wilderness is a good compliment to the seemingly senseless brutality that takes place in the film. The performances, particularly those of Wright and Alexander Skarsgard (who plays Vernon Sloane, the grieving father of the missing child) are mesmerizing, almost hypnotic, even. Hold the Dark manages to maintain viewers’ interest despite its opaque plot, and that isn’t an accomplishment that should be minimized. There are myriad ways in which this movie could be a disaster, but the combination of good performances, solid direction, a surprising level of violence, and a consistent (if mysterious for a while) theme help keep the film on track and entertaining.
The fact is, reviewing mystery films is difficult because revealing too much about what they’re actually about will completely ruin the enjoyment of trying to figure it out for oneself and trying to figure out what is going on is 75% of what makes Hold the Dark compelling. What I will say is that this movie will certainly divide opinions, but I won’t be surprised if it someday achieves cult classic status. I, for one, like Hold the Dark (in retrospect) and am recommending it. It held my attention throughout and once I realized what it was truly about, I was more than satisfied that the journey that the movie takes viewers on makes sense. Whether it’s worth the ride is another story, but there’s really only one way for you to decide for yourself… I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it!
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.