The latest Original Film to hit streaming service Netflix comes courtesy of ‘Green Room’ director Jeremy Saulnier. His new film, ‘Hold the Dark’ sees frequent collaborator Macon Blair adapt William Giraldi’s novel of the same name for the silver screen, or at least Netflix sized ones! When children in a small Alaskan village begin to go missing, retired naturalist Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) is called in to hunt down the suspected perpetrators, a pack of wolves.
Something that is becoming a recurring theme with films being released solely onto Netflix rather than into theatres is the experience of witnessing these stories on the biggest loudest screens that viewers are potentially missing out on. It was definitely the case with Alex Garland’s ‘Annihilation’ earlier in the year and the same can be said for Saulnier’s latest too. It’s a discussion for another time but one of the main reasons ‘Hold the Dark’ feels relevant to this conversation is the stunning scenery captured by cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Jønck. The snowy Alaskan mountains are a grand setting for this chilly thriller, often providing breathtaking visuals giving the film added aesthetic. At times these scenes could have lingered for even longer than they do as the appreciation for the beauty makes for an appealing contrast to the often brutal and bloody violence featured within the contents of the narrative.
At first this story feels like it’s going to be fairly formulaic as Core sets off into the woods to hunt his prey. However, the film proves to be anything but by the numbers developing into a violent mystery, adding more characters and settings to the proceedings than first expected. Despite this, after the the mystery is initially established it doesn’t really progress into anything that gripping. The film is held together by its stunning visuals and the outbursts of violent action. This along with the good performances from the cast make sure that ‘Hold the Dark’ is never a dull watch but the story could definitely have been more engaging. Wright’s Core is a man of few words and he holds a sombre demeanor despite this he’s an easy character to get behind and he quickly earns the trust of the audience. The remaining cast are effective in their respective roles too. The largest presence in the movie however is Alexander Skarsgård’s brooding solider, Vernon. Not dissimilar from his recent role in Duncan Jones’s ‘Mute’ Skarsgård excels as this kind of character and thankfully this time the material he has to work with is much better complimenting his performance at every turn.
‘Hold the Dark’ is without a doubt another notable entry into the filmography of a very talented director and a Netflix Original Film with more quality than most. Whilst the screenplay lacks the level of engagement nessecary to support the film by itself the remaining aspects of the film pick up the slack. With a pack of strong performances, attention grabbing action and beautiful visuals ‘Hold the Dark’ brings an energetic story into a snowy, sleepy setting lighting up the recent home media releases.
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 7.5/10
Question: What is your favourite Alexander Skarsgård film performance?
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