After his new film skipped Cannes and Venice, admirers of Jeremy Saulnier’s work were delighted to get a rare chance to see the Netflix-funded Hold the Dark on the big screen before it debuts on the streaming platform next month. Adapted from William Giraldi’s 2014 novel by regular Saulnier collaborator Macon Blair, Hold the Dark is still recognizably the work of the talent behind indie hits Blue Ruin and Green Room. But although there was plenty to discuss, Saulnier preferred to keep away from spoilers when he came to the Deadline studio with cast members Alexander Skarsgård, Jeffrey Wright and Riley Keough.
Explaining the basics, Saulnier told us: “It’s about a retired naturalist, Russell Core [played by Jeffrey Wright], who’s summoned to this remote village on the outskirts of Alaska by a young mother, played by Riley, whose son was presumably taken by wolves. It’s happened before in the village; her son is missing, and Core is on a mission to help her and possibly find the wolf that took her son. It takes all kinds of odd turns and twists—it’s this amazing hybrid of western, crime thriller, and existential, chamber drama.”
Skarsgård stepped in to talk about his character. “I play the father of the boy,” he said. “He’s [been] overseas in a desert war, it could be Afghanistan or Iraq, and he finds out his son is missing. His journey is just to avenge his son’s death, or disappearance. Initially, they think he was taken by wolves, but that might not be the case. So, for him, it’s about relentlessly trying to find whoever did it.”
More than that, no one was willing to say. But Skarsgård offered one last clue. “I don’t want to steer people,” he said, “or tell them what to take out of it. But there’s a line in the book that I love and [that] I think kind of sums up the movie, in a way. It’s this: ‘The dead don’t haunt the living, the living haunt themselves.’”
Find out more about Hold the Dark by clicking on the video above.