Most streamers love their original series, but sometimes you just want to watch a movie. Maybe you only have a couple hours to kill, or you’re not ready to dive into another series. Whatever your reasons for watching a Netflix original movie, the streaming service provider has plenty to choose from. The latest film Mrs. Buckler and I watched was Netflix’s Hold the Dark. If you’re looking for a unique, disturbing, and rather off-kilter thriller, this is the Netflix original programming for you.
Without knowing anything about Hold the Dark, I became intrigued with this film after seeing this trailer:
Netflix’s Hold the Dark
Hold the Dark stars Jeffrey Wright (Westworld), Akexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies), and Riley Keough (It Comes at Night). The premise of the film has wildlife expert Russell Core (Jeffrey Wright) investigating a possible case of a wolf killing a child in Keelut, Alaska. What starts out as an investigation into wolf behavior leads to a grisly discovery of the child’s body. This sets off a manhunt for the children’s parents, Medora (Keough) and Vernon Slone (Skarsgård). This leads to tragedy and a massive body count.
As a thriller, Hold the Dark has plenty going for it. The cinematography captures the brutality and beauty of the frozen Alaskan tundra. As I watched the events unfold on screen, I felt like I, too, was trapped in this harsh, frozen, and isolated wilderness. In addition to the visuals, the plot of Hold the Dark is unique and has a couple twists and turns. I can’t say much more than that because I don’t want to be known as “the spoiler guy.” Let’s just say that this is not your average movie… not by a long shot.
If I was asked what the movie’s theme is, I would have to say desperation. Hold the Dark seems to be dealing with desperate people who are literally and figuratively pushed to their breaking point. It’s set in a small Alaskan village that butts up against a river, tundra, and mountains. This gives the impression that its inhabitants are trapped, and some of them feel that way. This gives many of them a rather fatalistic view toward life. This meshes well with the dark grays and blue hues used throughout the film.
Hold the Dark: Possible Flaws
Hold the Dark is good, but it’s not a perfect film. It has its flaws, one of the biggest being its dialogue. For the most part, the characters don’t have much to say, and when they do talk, they mostly mumble. My colleague Stuart Sweet detests mumble-mouth movies and I have to agree with him, at least on that point. Half the time, I asked Mrs. Buckler to “turn it up” so I could catch what the characters whispered to each other.
Hold the Dark’s ending is another thing that some viewers might find frustrating. This is an off-beat film with an off-beat ending that might leave many viewers scratching their heads. It also might elicit statements such as “I don’t get it,” or “What is the director trying to say here?” The mumbling conversations are juxtaposed with loud, explosive acts of violence. There is one particularly long shootout sequence that is rather graphic in its realistic simplicity. If this kind of content makes you queasy or upset, consider yourself warned.
The ending is another thing that might work against this movie, at least with some viewers. Hold the Dark ends on a somewhat ambiguous note that might leave some viewers thinking, “What did I just watch?” Other people enjoy movies that end like this because it encourages them go back and think about how the film’s ending connects with its overall theme, subtext, plot, and dialogue. Other people want endings that are more clearly defined, while others just want movies to end on a happy, life-affirming note. Just so you know, Hold the Dark is not that kind of movie.
Watch Netflix’s Hold the Dark
So, hopefully I made the point that Hold the Dark is not for everyone. It’s a unique, scary, and thrilling ride into the darker parts of the human psyche. It is an externalization of the shadows aspects of the human spirit when people feel like they’ve been pushed to their breaking points. This film also shows the strength and fortitude it takes to NOT be dragged down into this very human abyss. It’s up to each of us to not only identify the important things in life, but also maintain a connection to it. That’s what I got out of the ending, anyway.
Netflix to Spend $8 Billion for New Content
Streaming industry scuttlebutt has it that Netflix plans to spend $8 billion this year on new content. This would bring its total content spending to $12 billion, which is likely more than Amazon, Hulu, and HBO. Moving forward, it would come as no surprise that this figure will be a drop in the bucket. After all, Netflix just agreed to buy a movie studio. While some (cough Stuart cough) think this spending is reckless, I think original content is Netflix’s strength. It’s likely why the streaming service has 1.09 million new U.S. subscribers, and 3.91 million internationally. This gives Netflix a grand total of 137 million subscribers. Wow! Just wow!
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