This will go down as the year NetFlix jumped fully into the major motion picture game, releasing films by top-tier directors Alfonso Cuaron and the Coen Brothers. A Martin Scorsese film is due in early 2019.
A lesser-known but very promising talent, Jeremy Saulnier, has also released his latest film on the streaming network. Saulnier, whose Blue Ruin and Green Room were exhilarating, harrowing revenge thrillers, is back with Hold the Dark, a film that is dark and chilling both metaphorically and literally.
Based on William Giraldi’s novel, Hold the Dark follows nature writer Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright), who is summoned to a small Alaskan town by a mother (Riley Keough) who claims her son has been taken by wolves. She knows the boy can’t have survived but hopes Core can at least track down the body.
Complications ensue, including the return from Iraq of the boy’s soldier father, played with icy stoicism by Alexander Skarsgard.
Set in a frozen, unforgiving landscape where the sun sets at 3 p.m., Hold the Dark is as unsettling and unpredictable as its location. The film reminds me of last year’s terrific Wind River, though that movie is downright buoyant in comparison.
I realize this doesn’t read much like a recommendation, and I definitely don’t think it’s for everyone. It’s my least favorite of Saulnier’s films.
I’m glad I watched it, though, because his is a career worth following.