“Chilling but unsatisfying”
Let me start off by saying I loved Jeremy Saulnier’s previous films, Blue Ruin and Green Room, especially Green Room. So, while I was lining up to see this at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) me, along with several others were really excited to see this and see what Saulnier has in store for us. The story follows Medora Stone’s (Riley Keough) son gone missing in the Alaskan wilderness. She writes to Russel Core (Jeffrey Wright) to find her son and kill the wolf that took him. As this is going on Vernon (Alexander Skarsgard) comes home from the Middle East and things become much more crazy/violent.
Hold the Dark like his previous projects has great performances, gorgeous cinematography (shot in Alberta), a dark/gloomy story/atmosphere/mood, and a very intriguing story but unlike his previous two projects, suffers from its slow burn pacing. While the story has much to offer and as it progresses you learn more about what happens, its still not enough for me to completely engross me all the way through.
The pacing notably drags for me in the second-half and the ending left me very unsatisfied especially with the events that transpired. After the screening, me and several others were talking about Hold the Dark and we all basically had sort of the same question “Is that it?” “What was that ending?” etc.
Overall, I believe this is a must-watch if you love slow-burn thrillers and enjoy Saulnier’s previous work but if you are not a fan of either, then I’m not sure you would enjoy this very much. The characters are interesting, the performances especially from Jeffrey Wright are fantastic, the Alaskan wilderness/overall cinematography is breathtaking to the eye, but unfortunately the story as interesting as it is, doesn’t have enough substance to warrant the run-time.
Rating – ★★★