• 06 Oct - 12 Oct, 2018
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

Beautifully shot and deliberately paced drama/thriller Hold the Dark wins big on ambiance and loses bigger on shallow, unexplored story and disjointedness of the plot.

Adapted from the book of the same by William Giraldi, and written for the screen by Macon Blair, the story is set in an Alaskan wilderness town called Keelut that isn’t that peppy to begin with. A mother, Medora Sloane (Riley Keough) has lost her young son there. The boy she tells was taken and killed by wolves and it is suspected two other children were also taken by the same wolf. She sends a handwritten letter to a naturalist wolf expert, Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) who had written a book about an event in his life where he once had tracked and killed a wolf. Core, complies with Medora’s wish to come and kill the wolf that took her son.

From her first introduction Medora is lifeless and depressed, and fixated with getting revenge on the wolves. Medora is also alone in her grieving as there are only few families beside hers in the isolated town. Her husband Vernon (Alexander Skarsgård) is away, stationed in Iraq and Medora grudges not having his presence.

The movie turns into a manhunt and pursuit for revenge with a lot of emotional baggage when Vernon returns citing unexplained motivations.

Hold the Dark leaves a lot in it story for the audience to make up their own assumptions about the characters and what drives their reasoning. However, there is a gaping hole in the plot that never fills as the story progresses and ends.

Despite this, director Jeremy Saulnier shows talent in the building tone and pace of what can only be described as dull horror that stems from human behavior. He also does not shy away from bloody, gushing violence.

Late in the film, Sauliner expertly stages a fight sequence when the police force is pinned and gun downed by a disgruntled local Inuit called Cheeon (Julian Black Antelope). (Cheeon’s, daughter was one of the children taken by the wolves and police did nothing about it).

Cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jønck aesthetically elevates the movie with its white landscapes and fire warmed darkness inside small Alaskan wooden homes. It is a save for the movie that has a uniformly well-acted cast. Still, Hold the Dark pretends to be a deeper movie then it is and not as good as it wants to be.•