Hold the Dark (2018)


The plot of the film follows two protagonists. One of them is Vernon Sloun (Alexander Skarsgård), who lives in a remote settlement in Alaska and is on tour in Iraq. After arriving home, bad news catches him and he embarks on uncompromising revenge. The other protagonist is Russell Korr (Jeffrey Wright), a writer and wolf expert, who comes to the village at the invitation of Vernon’s wife Medora (Riley Keough). Unchallenged, Russell will find himself involved in a series of violent and difficult to explain events…

The screenplay for this film was written by Macon Blair, based on a book by William Giraldi, and it is easy to conclude what is going on in the film – initially animal hunting, which later turns into human hunting. However, it is much harder to conclude exactly what Hold The Dark is about. We learn that the village where the action takes place has been unfortunate for a long time and that everything we see has something to do with local spiritualism, but we, like Russell’s character, have a hard time understanding the concept, if it exists at all.

The village has a history of events in which wolves came out of the woods and took a local child with them. Medora suspects that this happened to her son as well, so she orders Russell to catch the wolf and kill him, about which he doubts. Russell is a man who does not want to disturb the natural flow of things and is of the opinion that events in nature do not require revenge. On the other hand, Vernon is completely different. He is totally overwhelmed with anger and takes revenge on anyone who happens to him on the way, no matter if that person is responsible for something or not.

Between the peaceful naturalist Russell and the calculated and cold-blooded Vernon, it is clear which of them will occupy our attention. Vernon’s moves are undoubtedly brutal, and it is obvious that there is something more behind the rage and revenge, which can be explained by spiritualism. It is in such scenes that Jeremy Solnie comes to the fore, who in a unique way represents violence – it is brutal and unexpected, but there is something almost artistic in it. Russell, as well as the detective who unsuccessfully chases Vernon, have seen the dark sides of the human psyche, but they also do not have a reasonable answer to the horror they are witnessing.

However, due to the lack of answers to our doubts and the length of the film, the narrative very quickly becomes tiring to follow. Asking the main question whether people are defined by their own nature or the nature of their environment, the authors obviously did not even want to give an answer, but this time I did not take it as a plus. The film forces you to keep watching, primarily because of the fantastic cinematography and the main actors, but I believe that your frustration and confusion will come to light sooner or later.

Hold The Dark is a slow thriller with a dark mystery, which will hold your attention with its specific atmosphere and fascinating visual impression, but it will also confuse you with the lack of concrete answers to the topics that permeate the story.