Critic Reviews



Based on 26 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Screen Daily
It may take a while to acclimate to the film’s off-kilter rhythms and strange happenings — not unlike the film’s protagonist, an outsider entering the forbidding Alaskan wilderness — but Saulnier has crafted his most mature effort to date, mixing his love for pulp fiction with a sombre examination of the inexplicable evil all around us.
As Hold the Dark sputters to an unsatisfying finale, Wright’s character promises to explain everything that came before. The movie’s great punchline is that he’ll never be able to sort it all out — and we’re right there with him, reeling from a disquieting saga that has no patience for anyone in need easy answers, but keen on leaving us gasping for breath.
This is a film about the wilds — internal and external — and Saulnier shoots both the natural and the human side of the story with his usual sharp instincts for startling and engaging images.
Boasting the sort of shocking brutality and unnerving menace that has become Saulnier’s signature, Hold the Dark is also a strangely seductive film, and one that understands the difference between simple plot resolution and catharsis, leading us on a journey into Alaska’s frigid heart of darkness that poses more questions than it answers.
At its best, it’s a moody, scary, post-Peckinpah meditation on masculinity — and an all too rare opportunity to see Mr. Wright fronting a feature.
It’s a brutal slog of a film, admirable in its fearlessness in terms of dark subject matter, but the brutality doesn’t feel worth it in the end.
While the shifts in genre, plot and location do prove intriguing for much of the film, they ultimately result in a feeling of mild dissatisfaction, the whole never quite the sum of its parts.
The mystery surrounding the Slones and their missing child is much less interesting than Core's burgeoning friendship with the local sheriff, Donald Marium (James Badge Dale), who assists with the investigation.
Hold the Dark is a perfectly adequate film made by an especially talented director, Jeremy Saulnier. Alternately pulse-racing and somnambulant, it’s a thriller that starts strong before running out of gas.
Getting the chance to be an exceedingly dull stab at Elevated Horror, Elevated Thriller, and Elevated Action all in one fell swoop, Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark is nothing but a staggering failure in both the realm of art and entertainment.

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