Jeremy Saulnier on How ‘Hold the Dark’ Taught Him to Flex New Filmmaking Muscles

     October 1, 2018


We’ve got another winner for director Jeremy Saulnier! His feature directorial debut Murder Party scored the Audience Award at Slamdance in 2007. Then Saulnier took Blue Ruin to Cannes in 2013 and then in 2015 , I had the pleasure of being in the audience for the TIFF Midnight Madness screening of his third film, Green Room, a movie that wound up being in my Top 5 Movies of 2016. This year Saulnier was back at the Toronto International Film Festival with a new project, a film that’s a huge departure from his previous work as far as subject matter goes, but one that’s still steeped in darkness.


Image via Netflix

Saulnier teams up with Netflix for Hold the Dark. The movie is based on the William Giraldi novel, which is adapted by Saulnier’s frequent collaborator, Macon Blair. The movie stars Jeffrey Wright as Russell Core, a wolf expert who receives a curious call from a woman (Riley Keough) who believes her son was taken by wolves. As though those circumstances aren’t unsettling enough, upon arriving in the small, secluded Alaska village, Core gets pummeled by the various forms of darkness plaguing this community.

While celebrating the film’s World Premiere at TIFF, Saulnier took the time to sit down and discuss how this story became an absolute must for him to direct, coming to the conclusion that his movie needed flashbacks even though he prefers not to use them, his experience working with Netflix and so much more. You can listen to it all using the audio embed below. You can also download this chat from the Collider Factory feed on iTunes or over at PodcastOne.

Here’s the official synopsis for Hold the Dark:

Retired naturalist and wolf expert Russell Core (JEFFREY WRIGHT) journeys to the edge of civilization in northern Alaska at the pleading of Medora Slone (RILEY KEOUGH), a young mother whose son was killed by a pack of wolves. As Core attempts to help Medora track down the wolves who took her son, a strange and dangerous relationship develops between the two lonely souls.


But when Medora’s husband Vernon (ALEXANDER SKARSGARD) returns home from the Iraq War, the news of his child’s death ignites a violent chain of events. As local cop, Donald Marium (JAMES BADGE DALE), races to stop Vernon’s vengeful rampage, Core is forced on a perilous odyssey into the heart of darkness.

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