‘Hold The Dark’ Thinks It’s Deep

It’s Grad-School ‘Wind River’ For Intense Guys

I saw the Hold The Dark movie. Now streaming on Netflix and showing in a few theaters to qualify it for the Oscars it will never win, Hold The Dark stars Jeffrey Wright as a Farley Mowat-style lupine expert and writer. He gets a letter from Riley Keough who wants him to solve a Wolf Mystery In Alaska. Meanwhile, Alexander Skarsgard kills people in Iraq but then gets shot in the neck so he can go back to Alaska and kill more people.

Much violence ensues. Also, existential dread and grunting. People get killed with regular guns and machine guns and knives and bows and arrows. A sympathetic cop appears so he can also get killed, along with everyone else because of the Wolf Mystery. Wright wanders through every scene in a beard and a NyQuil haze. There’s a Hans Zimmer-style score that really beats the crap out of every moment, adding to the feeling that all is heavy and lost. Unearned Existential Dread pervades every scene, made all the worse because it takes place in 2004, before a few nicely-placed smartphones would have solved most of the problems.


HOLD THE DARK ★★(2/5 stars)
Directed by: Jeremy Saulnier
Written by: Macon Blair
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, James Badge Dale
Running time: 125 min.


 

The director, Jeremy Saulnier, builds tension in every scene and has a lot of noir style, which saves the whole thing from feeling generic. The Alaskan wilderness gets some nice widescreen shots. And Wright does what he can with a thinly-written part. But the whole thing feels like a grad-school ripoff of Wind River. That movie featured a script by Taylor Sheridan that called attention to the massive social problem of disappeared Native American women, with a subtext of energy companies exploiting the lands of the West. This movie, written by Macon Blair, features mumbo-jumbo about spirit masks and a gratuitous beaver shot of the only major female character who’s not a Native American “witch.” It all purports to be about something important. But like the first season of True Detective, all the blood and symbolism hides a story that’s really just about inbred pervs. The wolves are pretty cool, though.

This concludes my review of the Hold The Dark movie.

Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of ten semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. He's written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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