The Netflix Mystery Thriller Chills You To The Bone

By Robert Scucci | Published

There’s something about a thriller that’s set in Alaska that makes the story all the more unsettling. Netflix’s Hold the Dark is one such film, as its dramatic tension is just as much a product of its surroundings as its central characters. And we’re not just talking about a sadistic psychopath on the loose in the barren wilderness, but a pack of wolves that are at the center of this dark Jeremy Saulnier-directed film.

Hold The Dark Is Based On The Hit Novel

Hold the Dark is based on the William Giraldi novel of the same name and takes place in the remote Alaskan village of Keelut. We’re introduced to Medora Slone (Riley Keough), whose 6-year-old son, Bailey, is abducted by a pack of wolves along with two other children. She seeks the help of Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright), a retired naturalist and wolf expert who can help her track down her missing son.

Is Anyone Telling The Truth?

Meanwhile, Hold the Dark introduces us to Medora’s husband, Vernon (Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd), who is overseas fighting the war in Iraq and unaware that his child is missing or dead. An elderly local village woman reveals to Russell that Medora may very well be possessed by wolves, and isn’t telling him everything she knows about Bailey’s disappearance. Other townsfolk are inclined to believe the same thing, hinting that the wolves may have a demonic origin.

When Vernon returns from Iraq, Hold the Dark treads into profoundly unsettling territory. When Bailey’s body is discovered, a grief-stricken Vernon goes on a murderous rampage. Viewers will be left in the dark well into the third act because it’s not immediately clear who the antagonist is in this film.

Dark, Gripping, And Gorgeous

As gripping as Hold the Dark’s storytelling may be, its cinematography truly steals the show in this dark action thriller.

The harsh winter landscapes and dark contrasting tones play off each character’s sense of distress and confusion in a way that couldn’t be successfully captured in any other setting. Though Hold the Dark garnered a 69 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film received considerable praise for its use of the environment to tell its story. Critics agree that the narrative can be confusing at points, but the brilliantly shot sequences within its storytelling allow viewers to be fully immersed in the Alaskan wilderness.

Not For The Faint Of Heart

Hold the Dark is not for the faint of heart; its violence comes in many forms. While wolves are understandably aggressive toward their prey, the human element will truly get under your skin as you learn the motives behind each character’s actions. As you dig past the blood-stained snow and further into the mystery, you’ll be enthralled by the grim atmosphere and dark themes this film fearlessly explores.

Streaming Now On Netflix

At the end of the day, Hold the Dark is a worthy addition to Jeremy Saulnier’s filmography. Fans of the director point out similarities to the revenge story that’s told in his 2013 effort, Blue Ruin, but in a wildly different context. Whether you’re a fan of Saulnier’s past work or want to queue up a thriller on Netflix to pass the time, you’ll have a memorable viewing experience that will stick with you for days.