Hold the Dark is a Shadow


Hold the Dark is a mere shadow of better films of its kind, the lean, mean scary machine meant to push the bloody envelope, envelope the audience in a state of disturbed panic, and typically say a thing or two about humanity or society. Taylor Sheridan excels at it, and David Fincher invented it. Jeremy Saulnier’s Alaskan thriller has almost nothing to say, which wouldn’t be a problem if the carnage and callous premise amounted to anything funny, thrilling, or heart-rending. By the time the fourth or fifth character is cut down by bullet or blade for seemingly no reason there’s a sinking feeling that Hold the Dark is simply slasher horror gussied up for adult audiences. Jeffrey Wright, Jimmy Badge, and Alexander Skarsgard is a cast of great character actor proportions, and they all deliver to varying degrees. Skarsgard puts his now-patented silence to good use and Badge is always a welcome screen presence. Saulnier, minor auteur that he is, does get points for style, particularly in a gory midpoint shootout sequence that thrills for the first and only time. Like Green Room, it’s a pretty picture with plenty of cool shadows and silhouettes and snowy landscapes, but the why? of it all is as scarce as food and any semblance of fun in this fictional village of Keelut, Alaska.

Grade: C+

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