starring Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, James Badge Dale, Riley Keough
screenplay by Macon Blair, based on the novel by William Giraldi
directed by Jeremy Saulnier
by Walter Chaw "There's something wrong with the sky," someone tells Russell (Jeffrey Wright). They wonder if he's noticed it. Jeremy Saulnier's Hold the Dark is about mythologies--how they explain the capricious chaos of the world in terms understandable, using images that are universal to us. Mother, father, child, dark, blood, fire. He tells all of this complex story of revenge, betrayal, and the hunt in these broad archetypal strokes; it's a film written on a cave wall, and at the heart of it what are a movie and a cinema but images animated by a flicker to be told in the company of others? Hold the Dark is beautiful and spare in the way that only things told in primal, innate gestures can be, and its setting, an arctic Alaskan wilderness (played by Alberta, Canada), reflects that austerity. When there is dialogue, it's doggedly insufficient to the task of description and explication. Russell is a wolf expert and talks about how he sees a pack eating one of their young--something called "savaging" that happens when the environment is wrong in some way. It seems counterintuitive to devour the young, but sometimes, Hold the Dark suggests (without saying it), it can be an act of love.