Hold the Dark

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This film is intense from the beginning.

The cinematography is beautiful, absolutely gorgeous. The way that Hold the Dark is filmed, in concert with the landscape, is incredible. The score is brooding and dark, and makes the entire film nerve-wracking and almost uncomfortable to watch.

Unfortunately, I felt that the plot itself left a lot to be desired. A slow burn is one thing, if there’s a satisfying payoff at the end. Hold the Dark is slow and meandering, plodding through the bare skeleton of its story at a glacial pace and offering no clear resolution at the end.

A lot about this film felt random to me. Perhaps that was part of the intention – that life is random, and you can’t count on the next day to come. Be that as it may, the bursts of brutal violence felt arbitrary, and thus lessened the impact of them.

The shootout, the grand culmination of violence, felt contrived. I understand that a lot of the police officers were supposed to be new and untested, but a person with any modicum of sense would hide behind cover until the villain with the automatic machine gun had to reload. The scene came off as violence for the sake of violence.

A quick search revealed that Medora (Riley Keough) and Vernon (Alexander Skarsgard) were supposed to be twins. I suppose the clues were there, but they were vague at best. I feel like this revelation would have lent a lot towards the overall story, and I don’t understand why it was made to be so ambiguous.

Overall, Hold the Dark is a decent film that is perplexing, unrelentingly bleak, and beautiful to behold.

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