Hold The Phone: Our Review on ‘Hold the Dark’October 1, 2018
We have been holding our breath for “Hold the Dark” for a few weeks now, and it’s finally out on Netflix. No time was wasted to check out Alexander Skarsgård’s latest flick.
The movie is beautifully shot. The use of music and sound with the cinematography is poignant. A cinephile could spend hours picking apart the metaphors and themes: the relationship between father and son; man and animal; mortality vs. morality.
The director, Jeremy Saulnier, creates a slow, deliberate, quiet and intense world set in Alaska – which actually could serve as its own supporting cast member. Overall, the movie was interesting; it piqued our curiosity and had our eyes glued to the screen for two hours.
But three days later, we’re still scratching our head.
Over the weekend, we saw the Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB rating fall from decent to just OK. David Sims of The Atlantic sums up our thoughts perfectly: “Still, the film never coheres outside of those flashes, ultimately delivering a disappointing, confusing, but undeniably fascinating experience.” Read the full review on The Atlantic, or in the New York Times or on Rolling Stone.
Also, if you’re into reading what’s going to happen in a movie before watching the actual movie, keep reading.
‘Hold the Dark’ Plot Details
Medora Slone writes a letter to Russell Core pleading for help to find her son, who was taken by wolves while her husband is away at war. Core has an affinity for wolves; he’s written about them and that’s how Slone knows of him. She doesn’t expect her son to be alive, and she’s come to grips with that.
The dialogue is eerily quiet. Hushed. Staccato even. The movie sets the tone early on – as we watch, we’re guessing the quiet nature, allowing the most-quiet of sounds (like the sound of snow compacting under a foot step) to stand out.
Core goes out to track down the wolves, but can’t bring himself to shoot them. Medora tries to seduce Core, then tries to get him to strangle her.
The Alaskan film jumps to the juxtaposed desert, where we’re first introduced to Vernon Slone, who we learn very quickly is a quiet, violent man. He gets shot in the neck in a war-torn village and is discharged and sent home.
Back in Alaska, Core comes back to the Slone residence, and Medora’s not home. He sees the cellar unlocked, and he finds the frozen remains of the Slones’ missing boy. The authorities pin the killing on Medora – villagers think she’s possessed by a wolf demon.
Vernon ends up killing lots of folks, steals the body of his son, builds him a coffin and marks a cross on it with his own blood. He visits the village “witch,” and they talk about wolves, and he then proceeds to kill her. He moves through Alaska trying to find Medora, while Core and the cops are doing the same thing.
The cops arrive at the house of one of Vernon’s friends, whose child also was taken by wolves. The friend told Vernon he’d stall the cops, and boy did he ever. What ensued was one of the craziest shootouts we’ve ever seen in a movie. Core lives through the battle.
Vernon heads to a hotel that Medora previous stayed at. He finds a mask she left behind – there is a whole conversation about the mask (symbolism, perhaps). Vernon kills more people, of course.
Core and the police are chatting, and Core remembers a conversation with Medora about hot springs – he thinks he may know where she’s hiding.
They travel by helicopter to the hot springs, and pretty much as soon as they step out, Vernon shoots the cop with an arrow – straight to the neck. Core gets away, and he finds Medora. When he warns her that Vernon is close and they need to get out, he gets struck with an arrow. Vernon corners his wife, begins to choke her – then the two embrace and Core passes out.
The Slones leave their hideout, unbury the coffin of their son and trek through the woods like nothing ever happened. Core crawls out and is rescued by folks on a snowmobile who told him that they spared him. He awakens in a hospital with his estranged daughter by his side. She asked what happened, and he says that he’ll tell her.
The end. That’s it. Don’t you have questions, too?