In the Netflix-original film Hold the Dark, premiering this week, Jeffrey Wright plays Russell Core, a writer and expert on all things wolves who’s been summoned to a small Alaskan town. He’s been brought there by the mother of a young boy who was killed by a pack of wolves that’s been menacing the area in the hopes he can provide some answers.
Core’s investigation is one not everyone in the town is welcoming, though, and he finds himself stymied at many turns. Things get even more complicated when the boy’s father returns home from military service overseas and takes his son’s death very badly. All that means Core has to fight for his own survival and sanity.
Core stands in the forefront of the poster, the snowy mountain behind him giving off dangerous and ominous vibes. Those are amplified by the lone figure standing in the background wearing some sort of animal mask and looking like he’s hunting Core, not the other way around.
The first trailer starts out with a woman narrating the letter she’s sent Core, pleading with him to come hunt the wolves who have taken her son when everyone else has refused. When he starts looking around he gets more than he bargained for as people are reluctant to talk to him, threaten him and more. Basically, it may not have been wolves who are responsible and no one would like him to prove that point.
Online and Social
Nothing unique to the film here, just some promotion on Netflix’s brand channels.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Pre-roll ads ran on YouTube that used short versions of the trailer to drive traffic to Netflix’s site. Key art was also used for other online ads.
Media and Publicity
After it was acquired by Netflix the movie was among those expected to make its debut at Cannes but then it was caught up in the dispute between that festival and the streaming company, with director Saulnier expressing some strong opinions about anyone who feels Netflix movies aren’t actually “movies.” Saulnier later spoke about the shoot with Skarsgard alongside a first look photo from the movie.
Around that same time it was named as an addition to the Toronto Film Festival, where the director and cast were interviewed about the story, what had to be left on the cutting room floor and more.
Saulnier talked with IndieWire about what he wanted to do with this movie and how he viewed it as an opportunity to stretch himself a bit.
More positive buzz for the film was generated when it screened at Fantastic Fest, which made sense given that event’s propensity for darker, more twisted storytelling.
Given the love that was generated for Saulnier after his previous feature Green Room (which is excellent) and his role in directing HBO’s “True Detective,” it’s not surprising much of the press focused on him. He really was the public face of the movie in a way not many newer directors are these days.
What the campaign, especially that press push, sells is a move by Netflix into more serious genre fare. It already owns the “mid-grade sci-fi you half-watch while reading RSS” category, but by embracing Saulnier and his vision, it wants to position itself as a place for serious horror dramas. That’s why it brought the movie not only to TIFF but also Fantastic Fest, where critics who love that type of movie were going to see it and hopefully boost its profile. Add in a little paid advertising and it’s a pretty good push.
Picking Up the Spare
Jeffery Wright talks about the emotional toll imposed by filming the movie in such remote locations and harsh climates, not to mention the difficult subject matter.
Alexander Skarsgard says he went low-level creeper on director Jeremy Saulnier in order to get the role in this movie.
More from director Jeremy Saulnier here on the story, setting and characters.