Hold The Dark Ending Explained: A Cruel Story Of Human Lives And Animalistic Desires

Published Categorized as Movies No Comments on Hold The Dark Ending Explained: A Cruel Story Of Human Lives And Animalistic Desires
Poster for the film, Hold The Dark (Credits: Netflix)
Poster for the film, Hold The Dark (Credits: Netflix)

Jeremy Saulneir’s 2018 released action-packed thriller, made in collaboration with screenwriter Macon Blair, is one that has taken inspiration from author William Giraldi’s book of the same name. The film got to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12th, 2018 and is presently available on Netflix for streaming purposes.

Hold The Dark is set in some remote Alaskan village, being explored by a wolf expert who is on a hunt for the pack of wolves that may have killed his three kids. But soon, upon arrival, the wolf expert realizes that the village has more to it than what is visible on its surface. His journey to find the wolves takes him on a new journey of finding the terrifying secrets of the small town.

The movie has actor Jeffrey Wright in the main lead as Russell Core, Alexander Skarsgard as Vernon Slone, James Badge Dale as Chief Donald Marium, Riley Keough as Medora Slone, and a few more as part of the film’s small cast. The movie was shot over a span of a year in locations like Calgary, Drumheller, and Kananaskis Country, all part of the province of Alberta, Canada. 

The movie garnered mostly positive reviews from both viewers and critics, with many praising the deep thought that went into making the film. Apart from the impeccable acting, the movie has been applauded for its perfectly eerie background setting that adds to the mystery theme of the plot, not requiring much help from generic ‘scary’ tactics to make the movie a creepy thriller. 

Jeffrey Wright and Riley Keough in the movie, Hold The Dark (Credits: Netflix)
Jeffrey Wright and Riley Keough in the movie, Hold The Dark (Credits: Netflix)

Hold The Dark Ending Explained

The movie starts in December 2004 in the small village of Keelut located in Alaska, where one of the residents of the village, Medora Stone, sends a message to a famous writer, Russell Core, known for studying wolves and knowing a lot about their behavior. Upon reaching the village, Medora tells him that the reason why he was summoned was to hunt down the wolves that the former suspects killed her children, all three of them.

Core’s first response is to tell Medora that it might not be the wolves and that she should just drop the matter completely, but after completely ignoring him, she just mentions the hot springs located in the north of the town. It is when Core wakes up in the middle of the night and finds Medora completely naked in a bathtub, with a wolf mask on, that we realize that she might not be all that sane. 

Read:   Riley Keough Net Worth: How Much The Girlfriend Experience Actress Earns?

The movie shifts the scene to Iraq, where we see Vernon, Medora’s husband, fighting the war and trying to survive to go back home to his kids. In a fight in the town where his base has sent camp, he gets injured and has to be airlifted. While being taken away, even in an injured state, we see him calling for his son. Back in the small village, Core takes the morning sun as his cue to go out and try his best to find the wolves.

On his way, he comes across an old woman who tells him about Medora and her insanities, warning him that she has seen dark, evil things capable of completely destroying the human mind. He keeps on his way and comes across another pack of wolves chewing on a cub which he justifies as a cruel but normal wolf behavior where they wish to eliminate any weakness or stressor that may be burdening or slowing them.

Tantoo Cardinal as Illanaq in the movie, Hold The Dark (Credits: Netflix)
Tantoo Cardinal as Illanaq in the movie, Hold The Dark (Credits: Netflix)

The Evil Beginnings

Upon coming back to Medora’s house, he finds that she former is missing and tries to look for her. His search lands him in the basement of the house, where he finds Bailey, her six-year-old son’s dead body. A police investigation reveals that it was definitely not the wolves but Medora who actually killed her son. The town’s people are convinced that Medora has been taken over by some evil being that they believe is called Tournaq. 

One of the residents of the town brings Vernon to the morgue to identify Bailey’s body, and it only takes him a moment to kill all the officers and other personnel and takes his son’s body away to bury it in the snow. He performs a native ritual of marking the dead body with your own blood before covering the body and closing the grave. 

It is only after Vernon completely escapes from the place that the police realize what has happened. The former is back in town and already on a killing spree, starting with the old woman who warned Core about Medora. Before the police can catch Vernon, he escapes once again, this time to meet a wolf hunter he has known since childhood. 

Read:   Free Guy Second Trailer Reveals Everthing About the Plot

With only murder on his mind, he talks to the wolf hunter about some wolf oil that the latter had used on him when he was a child, and once the talk seems to be over, the wolf hunter is killed. Next in line was another man named Shan, a friend of Vernon who offered to treat him after he got shot in the shoulder by one of the wolf hunter’s men. While he is staying with Shan, Vernon overhears him talking about him to the police and decides to kill him too.

Alexander Skarsgard in the film, Hold The Dark, as Vernon (Credits: Netflix)
Alexander Skarsgard in the film, Hold The Dark as Vernon (Credits: Netflix)

Ambiguous Revelations

Core and one of the police officers, Marium, think that Medora is in danger and decide to get their hands on her before Vernon does. Core mentions the hot springs, and the two set out towards the springs and, thankfully, find Medora still alive, not so deep in the forest by the springs.

Just as the three are about to run, Marium gets killed by an arrow, indicating that Vernon is not very far. The latter shoots another arrow, this time at Core, who drops down immediately and becomes unconscious. Vernon reaches Medora and tries to strangle the life out of her, but she manages to scratch the wolf mask away from his face, which immediately stops the former.

The two go back to normal and walk toward their son’s grave, taking him out and dragging his coffin with them to their next destination. The movie ends with Core in a hospital in town with his daughter next to him. 

The movie ends in a vague manner with no particular comment on the wolf-human connection. But even with an open ending, there are a few things that can be confirmed about the movie. The movie definitely comments subtly on the humans of the town of Keelut, showing wolf-pack-like energies. There was some connection between the wolf mask and the act of putting it on that brought significant change in human behavior, making it resemble that of a wolf. 

Read:   Daisy Jones & The Six Filming Locations: This Is Where The Musical Series Was Filmed?

Ending Explained

One theme that the film has underlined is the incestuous nature of the relationship between Medora and Vernon. In a lot of different ways, the movie has confirmed that the two were not just a normal couple, the fact that they were siblings who had crossed a line and brought into the world unnatural outcomes of their heinous actions. 

While what Vernon did to his son’s body prior to his burial was actually a tribe ritual performed, the last scene of the siblings cum couple dragging their son’s body into the forest could be an indication of some weird blood ritual they wished to perform using his body. It could also be related back to the scenes of the wolf packs killing their own young blood because they considered it a burden.

Jeffrey Wright as Russell Core in the film, Hold The Dark (Credits: Netflix)
Jeffrey Wright as Russell Core in the film, Hold The Dark (Credits: Netflix)

Another question that the film’s end leaves unanswered is why did Medora kill Bailey, her son. A simple answer to that could be that she was unstable and did it on impulse. But a more cruel answer that would sit aptly with the setting of the movie was that she had two sides, her wolf side and her human side. The same was the case for her husband.

She knew Vernon had aggressive abilities and that he could potentially kill Bailey too, so in her own twisted way, she wanted to protect Bailey from his father, who she ended up killing him. Another reason could be the realization that both Vernon and Medora share with each other a forbidden relationship. Knowing that the two should not be together but still be with each other and even bringing into the world a product of their wrongdoings must have tortured her emotionally to the point where she found no way out except for killing Bailey. 

Them finally killing off half the town people and walking off into the forest with their dead child’s body could be an indication of a new start for the two, one where they do not find the need to ‘hold themselves in the dark’ but where they can let go of their wolf instincts and be their true hybrid selves.

Also Read: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Ending Explained: The Reason Behind Jen Yu’s End

By Tarunjyot Kaur

Tarunjyot Kaur is a content writer at OtakuKart and writes mainly entertainment-related content. she is currently put up in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. She has done her Bachelor's in Psychology. In her free time, she likes to read books, watch movies and play badminton. You can get in touch with me at tarunjyot88@gmail.com.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 × three =